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Best University for by Courses

(19 Posts)
SueThomasFBeye Sat 11-Feb-17 22:05:40

Please does anyone know wether there is a site/list/database which onecan use to search for the best university (in the U.K) for a particular course e.g engineering etc. I've done a search on Google and got one source but no idea wether there is a proper go to source for this.

LIZS Sat 11-Feb-17 22:18:40

There is a Which guide?

LowDudgeon Sat 11-Feb-17 22:41:23

All the broadsheets do this.

Well, Guardian, Times & Telegraph.

& there's a good universities guide?

Will look for links, hang on

LowDudgeon Sat 11-Feb-17 22:43:00

LowDudgeon Sat 11-Feb-17 22:47:37

That's paywalled though? & Telegraph doesn't seem to be by subject.

They all judge by different criteria, none of them are absolute guarantees, & universities move up & down by subject year on year, so you really need to consider syllabus, location, facilities etc carefully too.

LowDudgeon Sat 11-Feb-17 22:53:49

Can't tell if that matches any of the others.

PaperdollCartoon Sat 11-Feb-17 22:54:58

Complete university guide

titchy Sat 11-Feb-17 23:47:21

There is no one definitive source. There are several league tables, easily googlable, which allow you to look at rankings by subject, or to select your most important criteria. Complete university guide is an example. Unistats will also give you some information. None will tell you what the right choice for your child is though - no substitute for that I'm afraid - Prospectuses and visits.

peteneras Sun 12-Feb-17 08:16:35

Always my favourite, this site, set not only against all UK universities, but against all world universities.

SueThomasFBeye Sun 12-Feb-17 08:23:33

Thank you all so much for all the information. I had thought I had seen one some years ago, where it rated Universities by subject area,, so e.g for Southampton the source went into how marvellous their engineering dept was and talked about there partnership with British Aerospace? bla bla, but now I'm thinking i must have got it muddled up somewhere and it wasn't this at all. DS is thinking of engineering and I wanted to look further at the top 10 Universities for it to kind of narrow things down a bit. But it's looking like I may have imagined it blush.

I will look at the links given. I've already had a quick glance at Which, and came across Complete University when I was googling but wasn't sure how reliable a source it was, so I'm pleased someone here has mentioned it.

errorofjudgement Sun 12-Feb-17 08:47:36

We bought the Times University Guide from Amazon (though there may be one in your local library). That has the sort of information you mention.
BTW my DS did aerospace and spacecraft engineering at Southampton, he loved the course and it's very well regarded.

user7214743615 Sun 12-Feb-17 09:22:49

I wanted to look further at the top 10 Universities for it.

But you do understand that there is no definitive list of the top 10, right?

As you adjust the criteria, so the rankings will change.

And some criteria can be gamed by the courses more than others.

There is in practice often very little difference between 6, 12 and 20 on any given list. Better to look at the top 20 or so and cross off ones that aren't suitable for your family (e.g. opposite end of country) than restrict to a narrow pool at the beginning. And bear in mind that A levels do sometimes go wrong. It's pretty dangerous to only put the top 5 courses on your UCAS form and hold very high offers from places that don't take one dropped grade.

senua Sun 12-Feb-17 10:45:07

DS is thinking of engineering

Does he know what sort of Engineering? Some places offer a degree in AeroEng or MechEng or whatever. Other places enrol you on a generic Engineering course and you don't specialise until years 2 and 3.
It might be an idea to research the structure of courses.

SueThomasFBeye Sun 12-Feb-17 10:53:48

No he doesn't know what arm of engineering yet, but Doing a general engineering course which specialises later on sounds like a very good option. I've had a look at Peteneras's link and I'm finding it very useful too.

Does anyone know why Brunel doesn't seem rated as high as say Bath etc for engineering? I'm just a little surprised as I thought it was setup for this purpose. I know it's not RG but just wondering.

ScottishProf Sun 12-Feb-17 12:28:01

University rankings are really not comparable (exercise: find the departments that rank higher in the world by the research-led index peteneras pointed at than they do in the UK by the newspaper tables - there are several!). It depends a lot on what you want.

If your child is organised and hard-working and will take advantage of what's on offer - especially if they're also academically strong - then you may want the highest possible quality of what's on offer, and that probably means a department high in the QS world rankings (the one peteneras pointed at). Don't worry about the indicators the newspapers try to have of teaching quality: they are frankly not worth the paper they're printed on. (Dirty secret: student evaluations of teaching quality are not reliably correlated with how much the students learn - and if there is a correlation it may be negative, ie students learn more from lecturers they think are less good!) That's why the backlash against the TEF.

However if your child struggles with organisation etc and may be at risk of dropping out, then it might make sense to look for smaller departments with high staff:student ratios and good student ratings, because they may be the ones that can help your student stay on track. There's no point being in a world-leading department if half way through the first term you stop going to lectures and working.

user7214743615 Sun 12-Feb-17 12:38:55

high staff:student ratios and good student ratings

But beware that this statistic is not reliably/usefully reported in tables. A department with a lot of staff on research contracts can report a high staff to student ratio but the research staff are not involved in teaching.

I agree that smaller departments (look at student intake numbers) are often better for pastoral support.

SueThomasFBeye Sun 12-Feb-17 15:22:19

Scottish thank you so much for your wise words. Agree totally, and as much as I hate it, DS falls into the second category. But I know this and have it at the fore front of the mind whilst browsing familiarising ourselves with the various units and what they offer, so I know which ones to gently steer him off for want of a better word. Of course if he buckles up, starts shows more initiative and gets organised AND gets excellent A levels which he is capable of, then the sky's the limit.

I suppose it's a bit of a relief also to know that the university admissions personnel are experienced and very astute at selecting the right candidates that rarely do you find lazy, disorganised people at entering the very top Unis.

ScottishProf Sun 12-Feb-17 19:24:04

I suppose it's a bit of a relief also to know that the university admissions personnel are experienced and very astute at selecting the right candidates that rarely do you find lazy, disorganised people at entering the very top Unis.
Oh, how I wish that were true...

ScottishProf Sun 12-Feb-17 19:43:38

What is true is that disorganised people often won't succeed at the top unis, so it's in noone's interests for them to get in.

I don't like the term lazy: it's too perjorative. Being organised and hard-working requires a set of skills that not all students have succeeded in acquiring at a given stage; that's a better way to look at it.

The education offered at the top universities is typically predicated on students having those skills already; if they haven't, they'll really struggle.

That said, any learning environment worth its salt will attempt to help students acquire whatever skills they need. I often see students struggle with organisation early on, sort it out, and go on to succeed. Sadly, my department doesn't have the resources to hold students by the hand and help them develop these skills, and I also see students fail to sort it out and drop out/fail. It's easier to sort out if both:

- the course is not already very hard for you intellectually (if you can only keep up by dint of consistent hard work, you have no leeway if you're not working like that from the start): for this reason, students who lack those skills may be better off somewhere with a relatively less challenging course;

- you get quick, personalised help to spot that you have a problem and help you sort it out. This is why small departments can be good.

A college system, as at Oxford or Cambridge, can help in the second way, but not the first! They are almost the only places in the UK that have enough selectivity and enough effort to devote to admissions that it's close to true that you don't get in with major skills deficits - but it's all relative.

It's never too late to acquire these skills! However, there's certainly a risk in going somewhere that will assume you have them and not be hugely good at helping you acquire them.

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