See where University of Suffolk, Essex and UEA rank in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018

The University of Suffolk Waterfront Building in Ipswich. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The University of Suffolk Waterfront Building in Ipswich. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Records have been broken by the region’s universities in this year’s national league table of universities.

The University of Suffolk has finished bottom of The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018, in 129th place, but most of the data used is historical, stretching back to when it was known as University Campus Suffolk. Senior officials believe its ranking will improve over the coming years.

The University of Essex is celebrating after recording its highest-ever position in the table. It was shortlisted for university of the year award and was praised for its “genius” marketing campaign of welcoming “rebels with a cause”.

• The University of Suffolk officially declares its independence in August 2016.

Tim Greenacre, registrar and secretary at the University of Suffolk, which was ranked 126th in its debut year in 2016, said: “As the Sunday Times itself acknowledges, the league table used does not reflect our data since becoming a fully independent university. When it does we would expect our league table positioning to be more representative of the institution.

“We recognise the role played by national league tables such as The Sunday Times Good University Guide in informing applicant’s choices.

“However, a number of other measures are just as important, such as our recent performance in the National Student Survey where many of our programmes received 100% overall satisfaction; The Times Higher Education Annual Student Experience Survey which ranked the University of Suffolk 14th in the country for its academic experience; and the WhatUni Student Choice Awards last year which ranked us in the top 10 for Student Support, Accommodation and Course and Lecturers.

“We are proud of the positive impact we have on our local communities. Our latest destination data shows that 95% of our students are either in employment or continuing their studies in a graduate programme six months after graduation.

The Silberrad student centre at the University of Essex. Picture: UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX

The Silberrad student centre at the University of Essex. Picture: UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX - Credit: Archant

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“When looking across the region at the number of high performing students from traditionally low participation areas, we come out at the very top.

“We remain committed to ensuring we improve the lives of those in the communities we serve and strongly believe in higher education as a vehicle in which to do this.”

The university was set up as University Campus Suffolk in 2007 under a partnership between the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the University of Essex.

Last year, it received approval to become an independent university and gained permission from the Privy Council to change its name.

Vice chancellor Richard Lister had previously told this newspaper how the change in status will provide a £30 million annual boost to the local economy as the university aims to almost double its cohort of students over the next five years from 4,5000 to around 7,000.

• The university was ranked bronze in the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) earlier this year.

An appeal against the decision was unsuccessful. While the guide does not incorporate the TEF directly in its rankings, the key TEF ingredients of student satisfaction, graduate prospects and degree completion rates have been part of the ranking methodology for more than a decade.

The guide states: “The University of Suffolk, which only gained university status in 2016, finishes bottom of the national table, down three places on its debut last year.

“Most of the data on which it is being judged is drawn from its days when it was a satellite of the universities of East Anglia and Essex.

“However, the most recent student satisfaction scores published last month saw the university rank just inside the top 100 for teaching quality, an improvement on 2016 in its first year as a university in its own right.”

Elsewhere, the University of Essex has achieved its best-ever ranking. It has climbed eight places to 22nd in the table.

It was shortlisted by The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide for University of the Year, an award which went to Lancaster University.

A centre for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) will open in 2018 at the University of Essex, as well as new sports facilities and a £10m centre for innovation.

Alastair McCall, editor of The Sunday Times Good University Guide, said: “There is a new spirit around the university as it undergoes significant expansion.

“It has embraced its radical past with the marketing genius idea of welcoming ‘rebels with a cause’ backed up by a concerted effort to improve the student experience. Spending per head of student is currently the fourth highest in the UK as much of the iconic 1960s fabric of the university gets a makeover. This translates into a student experience rated within the top 30 in the country.

“Essex has targeted a consistent ranking in the UK top 25 as one of its benchmark measures of performance. We see no reason to doubt the likelihood of that coming to pass.”

Vice-chancellor, professor Anthony Forster, said of the institution’s shortlisting: “The university’s excellent performance in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018 reflects our success as a dual intensive university, equally committed to excellence in education and research.

“With record numbers of students applying to the University, a £200m programme of improvements to teaching facilities, informal student spaces, new sporting facilities and new student accommodation and the largest expansion of academic staff in the history of the University, we are proud that our achievements have been recognised.

“We are growing, but we have not lost focus of who we are and where we have come from. We are proud of our roots and our mission and values remain unchanged from when we first opened our doors to students in 1964.”

The University of Cambridge retained the top spot, and the University of East Anglia (UEA) rose from 15th place to 13th nationally, ranking it second in East Anglia.

A record number of pupils are starting degrees at the university, after an increase of more than a third in three years.

Vice chancellor professor David Richardson said: “We’re delighted to achieve our highest ever ranking and it really cements UEA’s place as a top 15 UK university.

“UEA has a well-deserved reputation for research excellence, alongside our gold ranking for teaching excellence, and these achievements reflect the continued hard work and dedication of our staff and students in maintaining our status as one of the country’s top universities.”

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