University of Kent drops to 49th on recent league table

The University of Kent has dropped five places to 49th in the Complete University Guide league table for 2020.

This shocking news is the first and only result yet received about the University’s overall rankings for 2019, as other prominent League Tables such as the Guardian and the Times Higher Education (THE) have yet to be released.

This is the lowest position the University has held in the past decade. Last year, the University saw one of the largest drops in University rankings, going from 25th in 2018 to 44th in 2019.

The University of Kent, which was granted its Royal Charter on 4 January 1965, is no longer the best higher education institution in Canterbury, with the improvement of the University of the Creative Arts (UCA) which has seen a seven-place rise to 48th. Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) now finds itself in the bottom 20, with the public university finding itself 117th, down 6.

Cambridge retains its place at the top of the table with Oxford retaining second place.

The standings - which rank more than 120 higher education centres - are based on ten measures, ranging from entry standards and student satisfaction, to research quality and graduate prospects. Universities are also ranked in more than 70 subject categories, as well as student-staff ratios and facilities.

Dr Bernard Kingston, chairman of The Complete University Guide, said: “The evidence is clear; the increased emphasis, including funding, on employability and career planning within academic departments and student services is bearing fruit.”

“Many institutions now have this as a core element of their strategic plans with the introduction of innovative programmes of subject-specific careers events focussed on embedding and signposting graduate destinations.”

The University has been approached for comment.

In an interview last September, Vice-Chancellor Karen Cox told InQuire that the University of Kent’s league rankings were due to a number of factors.

She explained: “For one, it is effected by the way we calculate the Students and staff ratio. It needs tightening up. We are also looking into the quality of staff we hire in light of the rising financial constraints facing workers.

“And the second reason is the National Student Survey, particularly on areas to do with feedback and assessment.

“It seems reasonable and rational that you [students] want feedback on your work and we will make sure staff and ourselves are aware of this.”

“It is good for us to stand back and ask, ‘what do we need to do?’, rather than just continuing to do what we have always done.”

This year’s student-staff ratio, according the CUG collection, marginally decreased to 18, meaning that for each staff member there are currently 18 students.

Although these figures suggest that each student would have less contact time with academic staff, the CUG states in its criterion that “a low student to staff ratio does not guarantee good quality of teaching or good access to staff”.

Many ranking tables even dispute the necessity and impact of this feature, with the Guardian arguing that the ratio of the number of staff members to students does not accurately reflect teaching intensity and does not reveal who is performing the teaching.

The University of Kent’s research and teaching intensity has remained incredibly high, ranking 0.85 out of 1. Its teaching quality is ranked as Gold by the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Graduate prospects have decreased to 78.0 out of 100.0, down 4.4 from 2019, and the average UCAS tariff score of new students entering the university has reduced from 137 to 134.

Student satisfaction, based on data from the National Student survey (NSS) for final-year undergraduate students, is another area which Kent has dropped in, going from 4.04 out of 5.00 in 2019 to 3.99 this year.