Some of the top universities in the UK are slipping down the ranking list under the new official ranking system that takes “student satisfaction” into more consideration.

The New System

Some of the top universities in the UK are now slipping down the ranking list under the new official ranking system, called “The Teaching Excellence Framework,” which places more weight on student satisfaction. The new system ranks universities in “gold, silver or bronze” based on student experience, dropout rate, employment following graduation and more.

Twenty six percent of the universities who entered were awarded the “gold” award, 50 percent the silver award, and 24 percent the bronze award.

According to Times Higher’s rankings, “London School of Economics” is 25th on their list of the best universities in the world. The new ranking system placed it under the “bronze” category. “University College London” (UCL), 15th best in the world based on the same system, was under the “silver” category. It was put at the same level as London Metropolitan University and Wrexham Glyndwr, which were both among the bottom universities in Times Higher’s rankings.

Jo Johnson, the universities minister in the UK, proposed this Teaching Excellence Framework back in 2015, as the government was expressing concern regarding universities’ focus on research “at the expense of teaching.” Its results were only published this year.

Comments on the New System

University of Buckingham’s vice chancellor, Anthony Seldon, said that he thinks the new ranking system would be “the biggest single catalyst to good teaching that the university sector has ever had.”

Coventry University’s vice chancellor, John Latham, also deemed this system a “new order” for higher-level education. “It’s a clear message that universities must work harder for a recognised environment of success and that students are looking for more than historic reputation,” he added.

England’s “Higher Education Funding Council” chief executive, Madeleine Atkins, said: “Students currently invest significant amounts of time, and indeed money and incurring debt in their higher education.  They are quite right to expect a high quality academic experience.”

However, many are also critical of the new system. The University & College Union’s general secretary, Sally Hunt, also commented on the system: “The Teaching Excellence Framework is opposed by both staff and student organisations and these results will have little credibility within higher education itself.”

“The fear is that students, beyond the UK in particular, will use these results as the basis for deciding which UK university to attend, which could damage some institutions.”

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