Y ou might have noticed that we’re not one of the Top 100 Universities in the World anymore, at least according to the Times Higher Education findings. Whereas we once sat at the lofty position of No. 93, we’re now all the way down at No. 126. Worse still, we can’t even use the banners, table ornaments, and other decorations anymore. To make matters worse, Bristol are sitting at No. 71, in spite of the fact that we thought that we had gotten rid of them in the National Rankings. You’re probably asking yourself now, how the hell can I justify going to Exeter now?
the ranking system isn’t the be-all-to-end-all of the university world
Well, in case you need consoling as you weep into your Exonian tea towel whilst consuming questionable quantities of curly fries as a way of comforting yourself at this devastating news, take comfort in the fact that the ranking system isn’t the be-all-to-end-all of the university world. Universities are scored on a points system, and the differences between many university rankings is often no more than 0.1 in terms of score. They are based primarily on research capability and ‘international outlook’, whilst also taking into account teaching quality and industry income, and whilst some are concrete at defi ning superiority, areas such as international outlook are harder to pin down, and rely just as heavily on the university’s history as it does on its management.
As for research, we can be pleased that the Living Systems Institute – designed to pioneer novel approaches to the treatment and understanding of diseases – is soon scheduled for completion, and will have a major impact on a number of fields currently available at Exeter, including Biosciences, Medicine, and Philosophy (thanks to the eGenis programme). The best advice for those concerned about the university’s reputation for research would be to be patient, for the new Institute should aid considerably with this. Biosciences and the discourse surrounding it is fast becoming affirmed as one of Exeter’s specialties, and the expected boost should prove to be more than enough to counteract this year’s fall.
Besides, our reputation for extracurricular and sporting achievement, and student satisfaction are giant-beating. Whilst this year hasn’t been the best for Exeter, it doesn’t mean that the University can’t recover and best the rest next year, although there are a number of problems it will have to face up to before it can do that, with Research Quality being high on the list, but a boost is surely coming. However, it’s unlikely to dampen our university spirit; subjectively speaking, we’re still “probably the best university in the world.”
C oming from a stereotypical Chinese family in Hong Kong, “the ranking of your university is high, right?” is among one of the first questions extended family members ask, when they ask about my education After some googling, they walk away in relief that I’ve gotten into a good university; what I study, or where Exeter is, doesn’t really matter in the long run. Exeter’s departure from the Times Higher Education Global 100 rankings may throw a wrench in their train of thought.
For most Hong Kong parents, it is simply out of the question to send their children overseas to schools that aren’t one of the best – partially out of the belief that their children deserve the best education, and partially because it is hard to keep other people interested in your child’s education when they have to ask which part of the world your child’s university is in. I’m sure that this isn’t just a Hong Kong thing; many families from many countries send their children overseas for the best career prospects, and a large part of it is seen in the prestige of the University. In fact, I am sure that many local parents also share the same sentiments.
Truthfully, there are about a billion other such rankings found everywhere, if we disregard their authenticity. Some of us might have spent days pouring over it before submitting UCAS choices: the aforementioned lists were certainly very big factors in pushing me to apply for Exeter. It seems trivial to be concerned about one publication’s judgement – but let us not forget that this is the Times we’re talking about. One of the most read, most consulted publications in the world, and there is no doubt that many others that make university rankings consult it as reference. Falling off the Times Global 100 can mean a lot of things, but there’s one statement made – Exeter isn’t that attractive anymore, not to employers, not to academics, not to students.
We’re facing a highly competitive world once we graduate; it’s often stressed to us the importance of a good CV, but no matter how presentable it is, what matters the most is our qualifications. Once employers decide that your degree isn’t as reputable as the other guy that wants your job, it’ll be harder to compete for it. Sometimes, it doesn’t quite matter what you studied; it’s where you studied that forms the biggest impression, especially if you’re not entering a professional field.
any kind of prestige should be welcome
In the immediate cohort, or even for graduates of 2019 or 2020, the effects may not be as obvious. However, as a relatively new university, the University of Exeter doesn’t have the traditional prestige of universities like King’s College or Oxbridge, nor does it have the convenience of being situated in a large city like London. We are still at the stage of establishing ourselves amongst the top universities in the world, and any kind of prestige should be welcome.
Of course, in writing the above paragraphs I have taken the impacts of this one single event and projected them pessimistically; with the constant shifts in ranking lists, our University has a high chance of becoming listed as one of the world’s best again. To current students, the impacts of this event might as well be zero; the campus is the same, the teaching quality is the same, and it is in our benefit to make the most of it. Who cares if relatives start asking questions? We’re here already, and we’re set up for some of the most memorable years in the rest of our lives.