For the first time, University of St Andrews has outranked University of Oxford to place second in the UK, in league tables published today by The Guardian.
St Andrews has ranked third in the UK for years across a variety of league tables, so breaking the “Oxbridge duopoly” is a milestone for the Scottish university.
On Oxbridge and the achievement, Principal Sally Mapstone stated in an email to faculty and students, “For our small university to have upset this familiar hegemony is a considerable achievement, and one of which I hope you will all feel deservedly proud. It is a significant result not just for St Andrews, but for the reputation of Scottish research, teaching and student experience.”
She added, “This result bears contemplation however, not for its mathematical or historical significance, but because it describes a point in time on St Andrews’ journey, a signpost of the advances we have made in the measures by which the Guardian judges the quality of an institution, and where we might go from here.
“It is our student experience, our students’ satisfaction with the quality of our research-led teaching and support, and our graduates’ prospects which, in the estimation of the Guardian, have pushed us further up the hill to second place.”
According to Matt Hiely-Rayner, who compiled The Guardian‘s guide, the rise from third to second was partially due to high levels of student satisfaction, as more than 93 per cent of students were satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of teaching at the University.
Mr Hiely-Rayner said to The Guardian, “While all three universities at the top have excellent student-staff ratios and the most demanding entry standards in the sector, St Andrews sets itself apart from the others with the most satisfied students.
“St Andrews tends to spend less on its students than Oxford and Cambridge. But the key reasons for its entry into the top two this year were its extremely high levels of student satisfaction, and an improvement in the proportion of its students who find graduate-level work or enter further study.”
Oxford also slipped in the rankings of graduate outcomes and employment, with the university now ranked 24th in the UK for career prospects.
St Andrews was also ranked first in subjects including classics and ancient history, economics, geography, history of art, physics, and politics.
The Guardian University Guide has been published for 20 years, and its rankings are based on a compilation of data relating to a university’s institutional performance and its student outcomes in each subject offered.