The last year has seen Aberystwyth fall in the rankings of a number of league tables. Firstly, in May last year, the 2015 Complete University Guide saw Aberystwyth fall 17 places to 87th. The drop in rankings came only a month after second year computer science student Kieron O’Shea began a petition calling on the Vice-Chancellor to resign.
In June, Aberystwyth saw Wales’ biggest drop, with a fall of 18 places in the Guardian University Guide to 106th out of 116 institutions in the UK. The recent release of rankings for the The Times and The Sunday Times also saw Aberystwyth drop down the rankings, with an 11 place drop, to 93rd. Following this, The Times and Sunday Times profile on Aberystwyth University states that:
“Aberystwyth has set itself the goal of becoming one of the top 30 universities in the UK and the top 250 in the world by 2017. It is a tall order where The Times and The Sunday Times league table is concerned, with the university presently in danger of falling out of our top 100, dropping 11 places this year after last year’s 35-place fall.”
A university spokesman said:
“While we were disappointed not to see an improvement in ranking this year, the result is not unexpected – both because of the emphasis of this particular League Table and the fact that the analysis is based on historic data – which has since improved.
We have seen a significant improvement in a number of indicators during 2014/15, so can confidently say that our position in the Guardian University League table, drawing on 13/14 statistics, really does not reflect the outstanding quality of the current Aberystwyth student experience and the University’s commitment to future student success.
University league tables are commercially driven exercises, and vary greatly in nature, content and the method by which they are compiled. The Guardian University League Tables includes neither the research standing of universities, nor student continuation/completion rates – both areas where Aberystwyth University performs well within the upper third of UK universities.
Research-led teaching is a key part of the Aberystwyth experience. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework showed that 95% of the research activity submitted by Aberystwyth University was of an internationally recognised standard or higher, with a staff submission rate of 77% (ranked 32nd in UK universities in the Complete University Guide). This means that students at Aberystwyth, including those in their very first year of university, have an extremely high chance of being taught by lecturers and professors involved in internationally recognised research.
The graduate employability indicator for last year was unusually low – the latest statistics, which will be released in July, are starting to show the impact of the university’s investment in a series of employability initiatives for our students – our established Graduate Trainee scheme and our two new AberForward flagship programmes which were launched in 2015 to give students the skills and confidence they need for their first foray into the job market.
This summer, the University will complete the final phase of £8.1m investment in teaching and learning facilities. From September, the new £45m Fferm Penglais student residences will be operational, offering some of the best student accommodation available at any university in the UK.
We would rather be higher in the League Tables – yes, and we will be; but they are really only a small part of the story. We are a university built on a proud tradition of extending a university education to all who are able to benefit from it, committed to excellent teaching informed by high-quality research, and passionate about the success of our students. We are delivering outstanding results and look forward to another year of high achievement for students and staff.”