back to article Oxford tops Blighty university rankings

A well-known annual league table of British universities has been published today, and flies in the face of basic common sense by placing Oxford top. The Times Good University Guide is issued by the well-known London newspaper, whose reputation for impartiality has suffered ever since it was bought by billionaire media tyrant …


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  1. Senor Beavis


    Thought Hull would have had a better showing. Oxford's a complete dump.

    Mine's the one that is so cunning you can brush your teeth with it.

  2. Keith Spencer


    Typical Tab! Still bitter at being second in the Boat Race. Don't panic though, we do like the Backs and wish we had them in Oxford. Well kinda. Disclosure: Graduate at Oxford (Undergrad a No5) so biased as they come. And soooooo not posh. Mummy told me so.

  3. Chris Miller
    Thumb Down


    Ah yes, the place where they think the plural of 'octopus' is 'octopi'.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    IC thugs

    Lol @ Imperial College London producing thuggish rugby playing scientists and engineers.

    I'll have you we're not all like that. But some definitely satisfy the bitter and twisted catgory!

  5. Nick Peach


    What's wrong with being enormous?

    Coat: the enormous one and make it b****dy quick wimp

  6. Dunstan Vavasour

    Intestingly ...

    ... within the last week I've had begging letters both from my old college and from the University of Oxford itself. Compared with the major American Universities, we Brits are incredibly stingy about subbing our Alma Mater, and both Oxford and Cambridge are typical British institutions which do incredibly well functioning on a shoe string.

    As for Lewis having been to The Other Place ... it explains a lot.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hardly fair...

    ... to question the impartiality of the *guide* given what followed.

  8. Paul Docherty

    Went to both...

    ... and found that Oxford was better in my area, chemistry. Better facilities, and more people doing interesting stuff. And that's from a relatively unbiased perspective as I did my undergraduate at Heriot-Watt, so had no bias towards either Ox or Bridge. Better pubs in Cambridge, though...

    However, it's time for change in the UK, and for a more research-focused institution, like the Scripps institute in the US, the Max-Plank in Germany or the ETH in Switzerland. Somewhere to put the academics that *can't* teach.

  9. Kyle
    Thumb Down

    Full disclosure means that being biased is allowed?

    "Somehow this trumps the mere facts of Cambridge students and profs being brainier and doing better, both at research and outside the garden of academe in real life."

    If you click on the link in your own article, you'll see that Cambridge came behind Oxford for the student/staff ratio, the degree completion rate and the good honours ratings. Which speaks against the notion of "doing better", at least to me.

    But then again, as with most education related league tables, the tendency is to look at the placing on the table rather than the actual performance metrics. I expected more, frankly.

    (And on a related note, speaking as an Oxford graduate, am I alone in wanting the pathetic fuelled-by-wankers rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge to just die out?)

  10. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Anonymous Coward

    Insufficiently neurotic

    Compared to the mock precision of the analyses published by _US News and World Report_, this is petty stuff. No doubt that is because Mort Zuckerman went to school at, well, wherever it was he went, but apparently not Oxford. Where are your five digits of decimals, for heaven's sake?

  11. J-Wick


    I only got a third, not a 2:1. And I didn't even get recklessly drunk & laid for 4 years, either... Spent most of it in the library. What a waste...

    On the other hand, my mate who went to Imperial was a thuggish rugby-playing physicist, so result on that one.

  12. Tony

    Biased - the Times? Surely not

    There is one institution noticeable by its absence - The Open University.

    As a student of the OU myself, I have found that many people seem to think that it is an easy option. In fact, the courses at the OU are as rigorous as any other and you have to study whilst doing normal work. You also need to have more motivation to stick at it than students at most other places.

    There was a case a few years ago of a student in the RN trying to complete an exam whilst the ship was under attack by the Iragi air force. Show me a student from Oxford that could that! Even the northern unis don't have exams interrupted by air assault - Wimps!

    I'm just waiting for the results of my last course - 6 years to get a PG Dip - next year, I should start my research project for my Masters degree. (I could do with some suggestions for a theme).

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Allow me to be the first to say ...

    I would rather be a leper than a tab.

  14. Chris Miller

    Oxford v Cambridge rivalry

    Calm down Kyle, it's a tradition! Besides, it pales into insignificance in comparison with Harvard v Yale (or anyone else v Notre Dame):

    'Paleface' Potter Junior (Bob Hope, in full Harvard regalia): "It's a Yale lock. I wish I had my gloves." (Son of Paleface - 1952)

  15. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Re: Oxford v Cambridge rivalry

    "(And on a related note, speaking as an Oxford graduate, am I alone in wanting the pathetic fuelled-by-wankers rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge to just die out?)"

    Speaking as a Cambridge graduate, I've only ever encountered it in forms that were pretty obviously tongue in cheek. A bit like the traditional rivaly between the English and the French and/or Germans, or just about anyone else for that matter. Or the Yankee bashing. (PS, to any Yanks out there, everyone loves to bash you coz your top. We were in the same position a century or so ago and people still love to bash us from time to time, so don't expect Yankee bashing to stop within your lifetime. Just take it as a compliment.)

  16. Keith Spencer


    You are indeed alone. So sad that you've left the Dark Side.

  17. Eddie Edwards

    @ Kyle

    "But then again, as with most education related league tables, the tendency is to look at the placing on the table rather than the actual performance metrics."

    Well of course it is, that's why they make the table.

    Of course, as you obviously realize, you can't create a "well-ordered" relationship from more than one independent metric anyway.

    Therefore, the idea of "league tables" themselves is silly and vying for #1 and #2 is about as sensible as two people with IQs of 180 and 181 arguing about who is smarter.

    The article is, in case you hadn't noticed by the end, somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

    Personally I find it rather entertaining that we can bicker about something so totally pointless. I think it's more fuelled by people who don't take it so seriously, than "wankers" per se.

    Disclaimer: Maths, Cambridge, 1990-93

  18. Kyle

    Re: Oxford v Cambridge rivalry

    Hmmm, evidently I'm missing out on the entertainment here. There again, I find that "tongue-in-cheek" is often slang for "not actually funny" so maybe that's it...

    Curious to see it compared to the English/French and English/German rivalry; as an Irish citizen, quite a lot (though by no means all) of proponents of the "Ah, mocking the French is all just a bit of fun" theory take extreme exception when the tables are turned by the Irish presenting the "800 years of oppression, you bastards!" variant.

  19. Dan White


    So Oxford scores 1000, the max score eh...?

    I suspect that they either made that up, or they’re using the top ranked one as their baseline figure, which they haven’t mentioned.

    Also, how does Oxford get to be number 1 when it’s NOT the top scoring university in: Research Quality, Student/Staff Ratio, Services and facilities spend, entry standards or Graduate Prospects?! Seems like there must be a huge weighting bias towards Completion and Good Honours.

    Smells a bit fishy to me... and I only got a "Desmond" from Bristol...

  20. Martin Silver badge
    Dead Vulture

    So nothing changes then

    “Courses that are perceived to offer a clear career path are becoming increasingly popular," said Guide editor John O'Leary, adding that "some traditional academic subjects are struggling.”

    So we have lots of people to do media relations for the all those new nuclear power stations but no physicists or engineers to design and build them.

  21. wiser mouse

    filthy tabs

    The hypocrisy of writing a blatantly biased article while accusing Murdoch of fudging the times' survey could only have been done by a Filthy Tab.

    Teminds me of the boat race a few years back when the tab umpire basically handed them the race...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    John Spackman

    Blackadder Goes Forth

    Episode 5 - "General Hospital"


    Edmund: I then leapt on the opportunity to test you. I asked if he'd been to one of the great universities: Oxford, Cambridge, or Hull...

    Mary: Well?

    Edmund: You failed to spot that only two of those are great universities.

    Mary: You swine!

    Melchett: That's right -- Oxford's a complete dump!

  23. Anonymous Coward


    I'm sure I was taught to have a sense of humour when I was there. Did your college not offer that? Shame.

  24. Mr Larrington


    I went to IC in spite of being completely hopeless at rugby

  25. Kyle

    @ AC

    "I'm sure I was taught to have a sense of humour when I was there."

    You had to learn to have one? At university? This may explain a lot...

  26. Anonymous Coward


    6 years to get a cup of tea from the OU!!!!!!!!!!!! I guess this is down to the situation of sending everything out by post although 6 years must have meant a lot of broken mugs and re-posted milk (due to best before dates no doubt).

    I'd rather go to Cambridge or Oxford on the basis that beverage preparation time is more reasonable.

    :I never went to university

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The best way forward is to do a BA at Oxford and a PhD at Cambridge. This then leaves you free to direct your anger at the real villains in all of this - those blighters at Trinity.

    Of course, you still have to decide which Trinity - and I'm leaving Dublin out of this, as they are, in my experience, seriously good eggs.

  28. Tony

    @ AC

    "6 years to get a cup of tea from the OU!!!!!!!!!!!! "

    Hah! I like the cut of your jib young sir! Hoist by my own petard.

    Nowadays of course, the courses are marked electronically - difficult to get the flavour right when it is only travelling at 21 K bps! 8-)

    On a serious note, the OU have a web site, Open Learn;

    You can see material from some of the courses - if you feel that you missed out, it's a good way to see if you would be able to handle the study / work / homelife balancing act.

  29. Tom


    I noticed a number of spelling mistakes and odd numbers in the tables, e.g.:

    "Prices between colleges vary widely between colleges." - cambridge's accomodation, there.

    Anyway, that list is for the universities as a whole. Check the list for your subject and the table changes markedly. For instance, in computer science Cambridge tops the list, and the top 10 change significantly.

    Why does the research go up to 7? How are each of these highly subjective numbers assessed? Will they be the same after I spend 3-4 years in that place? Will the department close halfway through, leaving me high and dry?

    Answers on a snail, please.

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