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A-level students face ‘minefield’ of university league tables

 There are several major university rankings – including TEF tables, LEO data and THE world rankings – and their results can vary widely.

For example, Birmingham’s Aston University ranks 49th among UK universities according to The Complete University Guide, while the LEO data puts it at No.2 in the country.

Aston’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Helen Higson, said:

“In some ways, it’s a minefield for young people and it’s difficult to know what to believe. Available advice is not always good and so people do look at league tables.

“Students shouldn’t go to a university just because it’s a so-called elite university, they should go to the best university for their subject or for what’s important to them.

“They should look at a university’s ‘mission’, what it’s trying to do, and asking if that fits with what the student wants to do.”

There is no doubt that a degree from the traditional “heavy hitters” of the university world, such as Oxford and Cambridge, still opens doors for students but other institutions offer their own strengths.

Aston is a case in point. Prof Higson said:

“Aston does one thing particularly well and that is get students into good jobs. That’s why we’re No.2 in the LEO rankings.”

The advice to students is to compare different tables, paying attention not just to purely academic outcomes but also the other elements of university life that can be so important in an individual’s development – for example, work placements or the “soft” skills that are so important for getting on in life.

Students should also look into dropout rates, particularly as evidence suggests those who drop out of university fare worse than those who never go in the first place.

In other words, before choosing which university to attend, students must do their homework. 


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