Staff and students help St Andrews to league table first

Friday 7 June 2019


The University of St Andrews has been ranked the top university in Scotland and second to Cambridge in the UK, according to a new higher education league table published today (7 June 2019).

The Guardian University Guide 2020 shows St Andrews claiming an unprecedented second place by virtue of its high scores for student satisfaction, graduate employment and the quality of its academic programmes.

The universities of Oxbridge traditionally monopolise first and second place in every UK university league table. In recent years, no other university has ever finished higher than 3rd place, a position which St Andrews had occupied in the Guardian Guide on five previous occasions.

The Guardian Guide 2020 said: “While all three universities at the top have excellent student-staff ratios and the most demanding entry standards in the sector, St Andrews sets itself apart from the others with the most satisfied students.

“St Andrews tends to spend less on its students than Oxford and Cambridge. But the key reasons for its entry into the top two this year were its extremely high levels of student satisfaction, and an improvement in the proportion of its students who find graduate-level work or enter further study.”

Staff and students at St Andrews, Scotland’s oldest university, welcomed the news.

Professor Sally Mapstone, St Andrews Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said: “Our warmest congratulations to Cambridge on securing top spot again. We’re not members of the club, in any sense, so for a small Scottish university to be competing amongst the very best universities in the United Kingdom says much for the strengths of research-led teaching and student experience across the sector north of the border.

“This ranking bears contemplation simply because it describes a point in time on St Andrews’ journey, a signpost of the advances we have made in the measures by which the Guardian judges the quality of an institution, and where we might go from here. Our progress is not organic or accidental but reflects the goals we have set out in our new strategy, each of which relies on an innate understanding that this place shines brightest when our students, academic and professional services staff and our alumni and supporters work hard and in concert.

“To my mind, we do this better in St Andrews than anywhere else.”

Paloma Paige, President of the St Andrews Students’ Association, said: “I am immensely proud that the University of St Andrews has received this recognition from the Guardian. I think it is testament to the unique opportunities available here which are very much shaped by student initiative and leadership.”

The Guardian’s league table ranks universities according to: spending per student; the student/staff ratio; graduate career prospects; the grades applicants require to be offered a place; a value-added score that compares students’ entry qualifications with their final degree results; and how satisfied final year students are with their courses, based on results from the annual National Student Survey (NSS).

St Andrews was ranked first in the UK for student satisfaction.

St Andrews academic schools again performed strongly with the University ranking top in the UK for six subjects: Classics, International Relations, History of Art, Geography, Economics and Physics.

The Guardian University Guide 2020 is available online.

Image caption: Students celebrate in St Salvator's Quad, University of St Andrews

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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