Looking at the data for all universities in the 2014 Complete University Guide, I couldn’t resist plotting a few graphs.
Firstly the relationship between entry qualifications and the number of students awarded good honours degrees.
Maybe this isn’t too much of a surprise – it appears to show that students who arrive at university with better qualifications are more likely to get a good degree.
It does however also suggest that those universities who recruit students with lower qualifications are not adding as much value to those students as they might like to claim.
Secondly, we can look at the relationship between graduate prospects and entry qualifications.
again, not surprisingly, this seems to show a link between entry qualifications, and gaining a graduate job. We are all aware of the tales of employers who are not interested now in anyone with less than a 2(i), so if students are not able to get to this level of qualification, based on their entry into HE, they are going to struggle to get graduate jobs.
Finally, there is the relationship between research score and overall league table score. It’s reasonably strongly weighted in this and other tables.
So the message would seem to be – to be successful in a league table such as this:
- increase the number of good degrees awarded
- recruit better qualified students who are more likely to get good degrees
- with better degrees, more graduates will get graduate entry jobs
- increase research assessment scores
In terms of how to do this, there are not likely to be simple answers, however here’s a few questions:
- how could a learning and teaching strategy be used to enable a step change in the development of academic skills to improve degree outcomes?
- what instruments and data can be used to identify which subjects, awards or even modules are not allowing their students to reach their full potential?
- are particular groups of students less likely to be successful – and what interventions could be developed that would benefit all students?
- how could a university help to develop students’ social capital to improve graduate prospects?
- how do teaching led universities ensure they have the right kind of research, that can provide a boost in league tables but which can support their core mission?