Two items of league table news

We are moving inexorably towards the start of the league table season, and much hand wringing is to be expected if table positions do not reflect what universities believe about themselves.

Firstly the THE World University Rankings for Asia was published last week. Staffordshire University has had a long running partnership with City University Hong Kong, through their School of Continuing and Professional Education., so it is interesting to see that City U makes it into the top 20 of universities in Asia.

Secondly, an article I originally missed in the Guardian, reports on the relationship between league table position and student recruitment.

“Prospective students are increasingly influenced by university league tables when deciding where to study, according to research that found rises and falls within league standings provoking sharp changes in numbers of applications.

The research by economists at Royal Holloway, University of London, found that individual departments moving up a subject-level league table experienced a rise in applications of almost 5%, with the increase most pronounced among overseas applicants.

They also found that the influence of league table standings has increased since the introduction of tuition fees, suggesting that students are now more aware of the reputation and relative standings of university departments.”

So far, so much like announcing the Pope’s Catholicism, however the study found that the impact was not the same for all universities:

“the boost in applications only applied to university departments sitting towards the upper end of the tables, and especially those within the top 10%. The economists found students to be “more or less indifferent” to changes for departments in the bottom half of the tables.”

Which provides an interesting conundrum – the higher you get in the table, the more significant it might become.