Methodology

Sources of data
Entry standards, student-staff ratios, services and facilities spend, completion rates, Firsts and 2:1s, graduate prospects and the 2014 Research Excellence Framework staffing data were supplied by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa), which provides a system of data collection, analysis and dissemination in relation to higher education in the whole of the United Kingdom. The original sources of data for these measures are data returns made by the universities themselves to Hesa.

The provision of the data by the above sources does not necessarily imply agreement with the data transformation and construction of the table. Universities were provided with sets of their own Hesa data, which form the basis of the table, in advance of publication, and were offered the opportunity to check the information.

The information regarding research quality was sourced from the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, a peer review exercise to evaluate the quality of research in UK higher education institutions undertaken by the UK higher education funding bodies. Some universities supplied replacement corrected data.

In building the university league table, scores for student satisfaction (covering both the teaching quality and student experience elements) and research quality were weighted by 1.5; all other indicators were weighted by 1. The indicators were combined using a z-score transformation and the totals were transformed to a scale with 1,000 for the top score. For entry standards, student-staff ratios, First and 2:1s and graduate prospects, the score was adjusted for subject mix.

The detailed definitions of the indicators are given below:


INSTITUTIONAL LEAGUE TABLE

Student satisfaction
The student satisfaction measure is split into two components that give students’ views of the quality of their courses.

i) Teaching quality 
The National Student Survey (NSS) covers six aspects of a course, with an additional question gauging overall satisfaction. Students answer on a scale from 1 (bottom) to 5 (top) and the score in the table is based on the percentage of positive responses (4 and 5 (“mostly agree” and “definitely agree”).

The teaching quality measure reflects the average scores of the teaching, assessment and feedback, and academic support sections.
Source: National Student Survey, 2016

ii) Student experience
The National Student Survey (NSS) covers six aspects of a course, with an additional question gauging overall satisfaction. Students answer on a scale from 1 (bottom) to 5 (top) and the score in the table is based on the percentage of positive responses (4 and 5 (“mostly agree” and “definitely agree”).

The student experience measure is drawn from the average scores of the organisation and management, learning resources, and personal development sections and the additional question on overall satisfaction.

Teaching quality is favoured over student experience and accounts for 67% of the overall score covering student satisfaction, with student experience making up the remaining 33%.
Source: National Student Survey, 2016


Research quality
Overall quality of research based on the new 2014 Research Excellence Framework. The output of the REF gave each institution a profile in the following categories — 4* world-leading, 3* internationally excellent, 2* internationally recognised, 1* nationally recognised and unclassified. The funding bodies have directed more funds to the very best research by applying weightings, and for the 2017 Guide we used the weightings adopted by Hefce (Higher Education Funding Council for England) for funding in 2013–14: 4* was weighted by a factor of 3 and 3* was weighted by a factor of 1. Outputs of 2* and 1* carry zero weight. To ensure that changes in research scores from the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) to the 2014 REF are not influenced by changes in weighting, the above weightings continue to be applied this year.

Universities could choose which staff to include in the REF, so, to factor in the depth of the research quality, each quality-profile score has been multiplied by the number of staff returned in the Ref as a proportion of all eligible staff.

The score is presented as a percentage of the maximum possible score of 3. To achieve the maximum score, all staff would need to be at 4* world-leading level.
Source: UK Funding Councils and Hesa


Entry standards
Mean tariff point scores on entry for first-year, first-degree students under 21 years of age based on A- and AS-levels and Highers and Advanced Highers, and other equivalent qualifications (for example, international baccalaureate). Entrants with zero tariffs were excluded from the calculation.
Source: Hesa, 2014-15

Graduate prospects
Destinations of full-time first-degree UK domiciled leavers. The indicator is based upon the activity of leavers six months after graduation and whether they entered professional or non-professional employment or entered graduate level further study. The professional employment marker is derived from the latest Standard Occupational Classification (SOC2010) codes. The data were derived from the Hesa Destination of Leavers from HE (DLHE) Record.
Source: Hesa, based on 2015 graduates surveyed up to March 2016


Firsts and 2:1s
The number of students who graduated with a first or upper second-class degree as a proportion of the total number of graduates with classified degrees. Enhanced first degrees, such as a MEng gained after four-year engineering course, were treated as equivalent to a first or upper second.
Source: Hesa, 2014-15


Completion rates
Percentage of students projected to complete their degree, including students who transfer to other institutions as a proportion of known data. The Hesa Performance Indicator uses current movements of students to project the eventual outcome. The measure used in the table projects what proportion of students will eventually gain a degree and what proportion will leave their current university or college but transfer into higher education, and is presented as a proportion of students with known data. 
Source: Hesa Performance Indicators published March 2016 (table T5 — uses 2013-14 entrant cohort)


Student-staff ratio
The number of students at each institution as defined in the Hesa Session HE and FE populations as an FTE (full-time equivalent) divided by the number of staff FTE based on academic staff including teaching only and teaching and research staff, but excluding research only staff. For students on industrial placement for a full year, the FTE is adjusted to 20% of the original, ie 0.2 for a full-time student; for students on an industrial placement for part of year, the FTE is adjusted to 60% of the original, ie 0.6 for a full-time student.
Source: Hesa, 2014-15


Services and facilities spend
A two-year average of expenditure on academic services and staff and student facilities, divided by the total number of full-time equivalent students.
Source: Hesa, 2013-14 and 2014-15


SUBJECT TABLES

Subject tables were based on four indicators: student satisfaction, research quality, entry standards and graduate prospects. (Education includes a fifth indicator — the most current teaching training assessments by Ofsted.) Theses were combined using a z-score transformation with equal weighting for the indicators and the totals were transformed to a scale with 100 for the top score.


Student satisfaction
This year, the student satisfaction measure has been split into two components that give students’ views of the quality of their courses.

i) Teaching quality 
The National Student Survey (NSS) covers six aspects of a course, with an additional question gauging overall satisfaction. Students answer on a scale from 1 (bottom) to 5 (top) and the score in the table is based on the percentage of positive responses (4 and 5 (“mostly agree” and “definitely agree”).

The teaching quality measure reflects the average scores of the teaching, assessment and feedback, and academic support sections.
Source: National Student Survey, 2016

ii) Student experience
The NSS covers six aspects of a course, with an additional question gauging overall satisfaction. Students answer on a scale from 1 (bottom) to 5 (top) and the score in the table is based on the percentage of positive responses (4 and 5 (“mostly agree” and “definitely agree”).

The student experience measure is drawn from the average scores of the organisation and management, learning resources, and personal development sections and the additional question on overall satisfaction.
Source: National Student Survey, 2016

Teaching quality is favoured over student experience and accounts for 67% of the overall score covering student satisfaction, with student experience making up the remaining 33%.

The latest year’s result was mapped at 107 subject level to the Times/Sunday Times subjects. If a score did not exist at this subject level for a single year, then a two-year aggregate was used. Where no data was available at the 107 subject level, then a one- year result from the 41 subject level data was used or, in the absence of this, a two-year score from this level. In the same vein, if that did not exist, either a one-year or a two-year result was taken from the 19 subject level. For institutions where an NSS score was not present at any of these levels, the average score of the other indicators was used
Source: National Student Survey, 2015 and 2016


Research quality
Overall quality of research based on the 2014 REF. The output of the REF gave each institution a profile in the following categories — 4* world-leading, 3* internationally excellent, 2* internationally recognised, 1* nationally recognised and unclassified. The funding bodies have directed more funds to the very best research by applying weightings, and for the 2017 Guide we used the weightings adopted by Hefce (the funding council for England) for funding in 2013–14: 4* is weighted by a factor of 3 and 3* is weighted by a factor of 1. Outputs of 2* and 1* carry zero weight. To ensure that changes in research scores from the 2008 RAE to the 2014 REF are not influenced by changes in weighting, the above weightings continue to be applied this year.

Universities could choose which staff to include in the REF so, to factor in the depth of the research quality, each quality-profile score has been multiplied by the number of staff returned in the REF as a proportion of all eligible staff. The score is presented as a percentage of the maximum possible score of 3. To achieve the maximum score, all staff would need to be at 4* world-leading level.
Source: UK Funding Councils and Hesa


Entry standards
Mean tariff point scores on entry for first-year, first-degree students under 21 years of age based on A- and AS-levels and highers and advanced highers and other equivalent qualifications (for wcample, international baccalaureate). Entrants with zero tariffs were excluded from the calculation.
Source: Hesa, 2014-15

Graduate prospects
Destinations of full-time, first-degree UK-domiciled leavers. The indicator is based upon the activity of leavers six months after graduation and whether they entered professional or non-professional employment, or entered graduate-level further study. The professional employment marker is derived from the latest Standard Occupational Classification (SOC2010) codes. The data were derived from the Hesa Destination of Leavers from HE (DLHE) Record.
Source: Hesa, based on 2015 graduates surveyed up to March 2016, and 2014 graduates surveyed up to March 2015


* An asterisk in any field in the subject tables denotes the use of data from last year’s publication of the Good University Guide (the 2016 edition), dated September 2015.