Top UK universities like Oxford and Cambridge might do wonders for you academically, but a new study shows these big names rank among some of the worst when it comes to offering students a taste of social diversity and that you really already have to come from a privileged background in case you want to study in these top institutions.
The latest findings of The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019 has included a table that measures the level of social diversity in UK universities, reporting that the top universities actually rank poorly for social inclusivity.
The guide ranks 132 UK universities on basis of student satisfaction (teaching quality and student experience), research quality, graduate prospects, entrance qualifications held by new students, degree results achieved, student/staff ratios, service and facilities spend, and degree completion rates.
The guide also added another league table for social inclusivity this year. Oxford, Cambridge and St Andrews ranked right at the bottom of the table for social inclusivity. The findings said that just 40% of students at top universities like Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College came from comprehensives, academies and other mainly non-selective schools, meaning more students from privileged schools made it to these top universities in the UK.
Inversely, the university that was at the last spot in this year’s list, London Metropolitan, was placed second for social inclusion. But the inclusivity reflects in other aspects of higher education as well. While both London Met and Glyndwr admit more than 96% of their students from non-grammar state schools, they suffer from high dropout rates and their grads rank low in terms of employability.
Alastair McCall, who is the editor for the Good University Guide, said scoring high on social inclusivity did not mean universities begin ignoring other important areas of focus. “Admitting a diverse range of students should not be a licence to fail in other areas, but too many of the institutions at the top of this ranking have among the highest dropout rates and the lowest levels of graduate employment.”
De Montfort University, which was 16th in the new table of social inclusivity and 65th in academic rankings, was named the university of the year for social inclusion. McCall said the university’s achievements showed it was possible to have both social diversity and academic success.
“It was the clear winner of our inaugural university of the year for social inclusion award for its policies to encourage a diverse student population on campus and then demanding that they go on to achieve as well as is expected of students drawn from more privileged backgrounds,” he said.
Loughborough University scooped the university of the year title for the second time, and was placed fifth in the main rankings. The University of Nottingham was named sports university of the year and international university of the year, coming 16th overall.