Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Manchester: Why so glum?

I noticed before some weird stats about how good or otherwise Manchester is as a university that didn't seem to go together. The good news is that in the Times 'World University Rankings' the University of Manchester comes 26th, up three places from last year and the seventh highest coming from the UK. That all sounds pretty impressive, especially considering its a relatively new university (since the merger) and is still getting better. But then looking at the 'Good University Guide', from the same paper, we're down in 26th in the UK. Why the difference?

The difference is in what's being used to judge universities across the different ranking systems. The world one is decided by looking at how employers and peers view it, as well as the quality of research. In these categories Manchester does well, its in the Russell Group of research universities and employers like it. The other looks at things like drop-out rates and student satisfaction. In these areas, it doesn't do so well. In terms of student happiness Manchester does pretty poorly, and in Medicine it's particularly bad (only 61% of students said they were satisfied!).

I really can't see where this comes from, everyone I know on the course seems pretty satisfied, some might not think its the greatest thing ever but they certainly wouldn't say it was bad. Maybe it's because the National Student Survey (where the data comes from) is only for final year students to complete. With PBL being a pretty new way of learning at Manchester there were bound to be some problems when the present fifth years were in pre-clinical and there are still minor teething problems to this day. Hopefully, enough is being done that the people coming through now will be a lot happier than they were in the past. Student satisfaction is the major thing holding us back from really being considered among the elite, everything else is working well, so cheer up Manchester!

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