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Imperial First in Good University Guide ... Nearly

Aug 01 2007 11:36
Ashley Brown
The Good University Guide was published on Monday, with Imperial in 3rd - but would have been 1st if student satisfaction was higher.
1st when you take out student satisfaction, 3rd otherwise

This year's Good University Guide has now been published independently of The Times, after legal concerns initially delayed it. Once again Imperial is ranked third behind Cambridge and Oxford, with LSE and St Andrews taking the final places in the top 5.

However, there are far more interesting things afoot when making use of the so-called "interactive mode". Taking out "student satisfaction" from the ranking puts Imperial first, as the diabolical response from the National Student Survey hits Imperial hard. Sorting by student satisfaction leaves Imperial languishing on the 6th page, in 68th place out of 131.

Live!'s conversations with College sources have indicated senior figures are keen to improve the student experience, with the Prince's Gardens and Beit redevelopments key to this process. Quality of coursework marking, support and feedback remains a concern in many departments, with poor teaching in some areas also contributing to the poor satisfaction score.

Imperial ranks first for spend on academic services thanks to the huge investment on campus and is second only to Cambridge for graduate prospects. Imperial appears at the following positions in the subject tables:

  • Chemical Engineering: 2nd
  • Civil Engineering: 2nd
  • Computing: 3rd
  • Biological Sciences: 3rd
  • Geology: 3rd
  • Mechanical Engineering: 3rd
  • Physics: 3rd
  • Aero: 4th
  • Chemistry: 4th
  • EEE: 4th
  • Materials: 4th
  • Medicine: 5th
  • Maths: 6th

A legal spat between The Times and newly-independent Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) delayed publication of this year's guide, however the research team and other sponsors appear to have published without The Times, despite fleeting references to the publication throughout the site.

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Discussion about “Imperial First in Good University Guide ... Nearly”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. what?   
Aug 01 2007 14:14

Whats wrong with Imperial students? Obviously you give Imperial best marks in that survey so Imperial is ranked better and you get a higher starting salary.

Aug 01 2007 14:21

Imperial graduates have the highest starting salaries anyway... They also tend to complain more if things aren't right.

Aug 01 2007 15:56

Maybe if us students could actually find out about this student satisfaction survey, then we could try and influence it...

i didn't even realise we were being surveyed at all? Or are results taken directly from SOLE?

Aug 01 2007 15:58

Back in the dark ages other final year students would get paid to go round and bully people into taking the survey.

5. ...   
Aug 02 2007 01:30

The student satisfaction survey is done after you graduate. You will get hassled to do it - by letter, email and phone

Aug 02 2007 10:15

Oh, because starting salary is the most important thing ever. Jesus.

Imperial is ranked low for student satisfaction because a) the campus looks like c**p, b) teaching is very patchy, c) support is very patchy, d) the staff don't have a concept of what workload is actually physically possible without killing your students, and consequently everyone's stressed out.

Aug 02 2007 10:26

Thankfully there seems to be progress being made on a) , but it'll take a long time to tear down every 60s building.

b) and c) have been problems for what feels like forever and I'm at a loss as to how to fix it. The reason for patchy support is the high stresses on academics to produce their research - I can't see that changing.

d) is what makes Imperial graduates as good as they are - it comes with the place and is why the starting salary is so high. The solution isn't less work, but more play, combined with removing the stress that isn't needed (like having to jump through hoops for registry, which will be improved this year with the "one-stop-shop" they've introduced).

If you want to de-stress on campus, where do you go?

Aug 02 2007 13:13

Remove academic services spend and up student satisfaction and Imperial goes down

Why does academic services spend mean that a university gives a good education? Is learning now about being in a good building environment?

9. pg   
Aug 02 2007 13:40

Learning is about having the resources available to you to learn. For example enough books in the library, modern computer equipment, modern lab spaces, the ability to buy or borrow resources for final dissertations.

Replacing old 60s blocks with buildings which make efficient - but not oppressive - use of space is key to stopping people feeling like they're on a battery farm .. its just a shame Foster insists on creating big open spaces.

Students won't be satisfied that they're being worked to death - the best way to get a high SS score is to throw a big party for 4 years and then give everyone a degree.

People tend to be quite satisfied with their ?30k salary when they leave though.

Aug 03 2007 16:04

Not everyone who leaves goes onto a ?30k salary, some become graduate engineers.

Aug 04 2007 11:27

and some end up earning ?14,900 as a PhD student...

12. person   
Aug 04 2007 23:39

There is nowhere to "de-stress" (what an awful neologism, Ashley) on campus. That would be one of the problems.

The JCR is busy, loud and bright. The library is hot and oppressive. The SCR, to the privileged that can access it, is noisy and crammed, though it does become passable later in the afternoons. The Quad has its moments, but certainly not at the moment when it's filled with brash, irritating Americans. And most of our departmental libraries have been taken away, which was a favourite spot for me during my time at IC.

Starting salary of ?30k? Yes, if you swiftly proceed to sell your soul to some horrible 'consulting' firm. I'd rather throw myself under a bus. That's not a problem with IC, though; that's a problem with the market for high-end graduates wanting decent salaries. You're pretty much funneled into investment banking, consulting, and other such disciplines that blight the modern world. The only other option is the Civil Service.

What a waste of talent; to leave a great SCIENCE university then go work for years for some soulless financial company.

Aug 05 2007 09:51

Would just like to point out that as always aero has been lumped with manufacturing engineering and therefore the tables are once again useless for anyone considering where to go to do aero. Look at the table and you will see that Newcastle are ahead of us ?!

14. pg   
Aug 07 2007 13:31

What's more strange is that the two top ranked universities (Oxford and Cambridge) have student:staff ratios of 13:1, and 12:1 respectively, and Imperial has a better ratio of 9:1. Yet Oxbridge students have two-on-one tutorials with professors and lecturers every week of their term, which must be in part responsible for the higher student satisfaction ratings, in comparison to Imperial which has much larger learning group sizes.

Equally - looking at the facilities spend which is lower at the higher ranked uni's, means that's it's clearly not primarily about buildings.

15. pg2   
Aug 07 2007 13:42

And the professors/lecturers are too research-focussed to have small tutorials with their students, and if that's the reason for the larger class settings and that they delegate to more junior staff, then how do equally high profile profs at Oxbridge make that time??

16. pg3   
Aug 07 2007 16:40

profs dont do tuts at oxbridge, its usually phd students, postdocs, readers etc. no different from imperial (or at least physics), where you have 3 or 4:1 tutorials. same concept. at imperial, in fact, you get an actual prof (and not just a reader) every 2nd week, and on the alternating weeks some postdoc or whatever. at cambridge i have friends doing phds who are giving tuts every week to poor undergrads. the imperial model (or at least the physics model) works well here.



17. pg4   
Aug 07 2007 16:43

Little or no coursework and nothing compulsory to go to? Physics isn't working their students hard enough then.

Aug 07 2007 17:02


I'm assuming you're a Physicist from your previous comment, so what the f**k do you mean by "no coursework" and "nothing compulsory to go to"? As I recall, lab WAS compulsory (for Physics at least) and was continuous throughout the year, with write-ups you had to complete in your own time - sound a bit like coursework to you too? Oh, and tutorials were compulsory too, but I don't know if they are in other subjects.

Aug 07 2007 21:03

"He Who Knows All" obviously doesnt know all...

lab WAS compulsory. so what. you sit in labs for 6 hours a week, do jack s**t and write the report the night before its due and get a 2:1 or a 1st.

Tutorials were not compulsory after first year. I attended exactly 2 tuts 3rd year, maybe twice that second year.

so what the f**k do YOU mean by coursework? mate, thats just pathetic if someone complains about those minute amounts. compared to oxbridge and even the lse, the amount we do is laughable. and if you think it's bad, go to woking and study toiletry.

Aug 07 2007 21:07

Re: pg4's comments...why is it then that physicists are among the most employable of gimperial graduates? and just how come exactly physicists are admitted to do the part III MATHS in cambridge, widely regarded as the most difficult undergraduate degree in the world, whereas no other departments' graduates (save maths of course) at imperial are? oh and here's a brilliant one...physics has existed as a subject, pretty much in its present-day format, for longer than all the other subjects and thrived excellently...s**t man, how come there seem to be so many superlatives to describe this awesome, kick-ass degree, but apparently we dont work hard enough. beats me.

(sounds a bit like some dude who is a bit too challenged by uni standards and got in off his theology a-level is running up s**t creek as soon as he has a...*scary music* LAB REPORT to write)

Aug 09 2007 18:46

For reference, I was an Oxford undergrad and had tutorials with actual professors every single week. And they do give make you feel that the university is pretty student-centred and probably give a great sense of student satisfaction. True I had some classes with lecturers or postgrads every once in a while. But the tutorials with the profs were weekly in addition to the classes, and were almost always 2:1. None of my friends here have had those kinds of ratios consistently, with professors, from first through to final year, except through absenteeism!

And yes the workload at Imperial and at other good universities is going to be a challenge, but it's designed to let you get the best possible education out of the university experience, and while it could always do with fine-tuning, if they cut it down entirely, you wouldn't want to do your degree here as it would stand for nothing!

Sep 14 2007 10:48

The Rector has made a new post on his blog regarding student satisfaction. You can view the post, An Imperial measure : Student satisfaction if you're inside the College network and have an active IC login.

(I don't understand why they're so uptight about security on his blog either).

Sep 14 2007 12:41

Some interesting points from the Rector there:

"Southside will open in October as a new, modern hall of residence in the most expensive university area in the UK" - yes, and with some of the most expensive rents to boot, oh, and these will no longer include laundry facilities for which you will have to queue for hours as there aren't enough machines.

Perhaps College should realize that accommodation is a very important part of the 'student experience' and dramatically reducing the level of facilities, introducing charging at point of use rather than included in the rent and taking away student space is not going to help that.

Sep 14 2007 14:06

Correction, it seems you now only need an IC login...

Sep 14 2007 15:11

Is it for current students/staff only? My old login doesn't seem to be working...

Sep 14 2007 15:23

Yes, current students/staff only I'm afraid. Try a club login if you know one...

27. Paul_A   
Aug 14 2008 17:00

I graduated in physics in 1975. My recollection was that it was a teach yourself course ! Students were dissatisfied then too (not least because of the 13:1) gender ratio. Sounds like it hasn't changed too much. Even the undergraduate intake (says 220 was 200) is the same. Anyone know what the failure rate is for physics undergrads ?

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