Features | By Amy Ripley

City moves up the rankings

What do our latest set of rankings mean?


This year, City recorded a slew of impressive rankings including 39th in the UK for research (Research Excellence Framework/Times Higher Education 2022), 40th best university in the UK (Complete Universities Guide 2022) and in the Top 350 globally (QS Global Rankings, 2023). While the numbers look good and reflect our commitment to teaching, learning and ensuring our students have a well-rounded education, what do they actually mean and how are they put together?


University league tables rank universities’ overall performance by a number of different measures which might include research, teaching, student satisfaction and graduate success. Some of the best-known rankings include the Times Higher Education rankings, the Complete Universities Guide and the Financial Times Business School rankings.


Rankings vary in terms of factors considered, with some complex, comprising of multiple indicators across university data, surveys and reputational measures but each seek, ultimately, to measure institutional performance.


University rankings are most often used by prospective undergraduate and postgraduate students from both the UK and overseas, when deciding where to study. Teachers, parents, guardians, careers advisors, employers, and the universities themselves also use the rankings.


Rob Whitelam is the Management Information and Rankings Manager at Bayes Business School. He manages the rankings process at Bayes, working with the School’s senior leadership team to ensure the School remains competitive.


Rob says although the use of rankings differs according to audience, some universities and business schools use rankings as an information source for benchmarking against other institutions and to guide strategic decision making, such as market positioning.


“While individual ranking methodologies vary in terms of transparency and inputs, they are ultimately a measure of performance, which for prospective students can provide useful information when choosing a school or university. Arguably they are a flawed measure of performance, but many do consider important factors including diversity, student experience and alumni success,” he says.


Rob says rankings have an important role to play in a university’s public profile. “Rankings appear prominently across respected global media channels, therefore it is important schools feature in rankings to ensure the continued value and profile of alumni qualifications, given the increasing competition in the education market.”


Alumni have a particularly important role to play in rankings.


“Ranking methodologies are weighted towards feedback from alumni, in terms of career progression since studying and satisfaction measures related to their experience whilst studying,” Rob says.


“Therefore rankings are a reflection and celebration of alumni success. At Bayes, we invite all of our alumni to participate in rankings surveys when eligible – it’s important alumni have the opportunity to provide feedback on their experiences to help inform future students.”


Rankings have been around for years – for example, the Complete Universities Guide first published their printed league tables in the 1990s. Now, most rankings are online and easily searchable by potential students from around the world. Rob says rankings are an evolving process and there are likely to be more changes ahead in the years to come.


“I expect there will be changes for the business school rankings, whether it be reflexive methodological changes needed due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic or longer-term reviews around how rankings can better evaluate business education. Many rankings providers are considering the wider societal impact of business schools, and the extent to which schools incorporate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues into the curriculum.”


You can read more about City’s rankings here.