Oxford University has been named the best university in Britain for the second year running. The Times put Oxford top in their definitive annual league table and increased the University’s lead over rivals Cambridge. Oxford topped the poll for the first time last year after displacing their historic rivals who had held the first position since the survey began. This year the University scored a perfect 1000 but extended its lead from three to fourteen points over second-placed Cambridge. Sir Colin Lucas, the vice chancellor, said “I hope that this result will encourage more bright students, whatever their background, who want to aim for the top to apply.” It is hoped that evidence of Oxford’s high standard will result in more applications, especially in proving that the University does not conform to the Brideshead image with which it is often branded. However, despite its triumph, the University lags behind in a survey of graduate destinations receiving a score of only 83.6. This puts it slightly behind neighbour Brookes but significantly further behind the leader, Cambridge, which scored 90.5. Tony Butler, director of the Oxford University Careers Service, responded by saying employers are keen to recruit Oxford graduates but that the figures are distorted by the number of students delaying employment. “There’s evidence that the pressures of studying, which have increased by the introduction of fees, mean that many are putting off looking for a job until after their exams.” Researchers analysed the percentage of graduates who go into jobs that require or expect degree qualifications but only looked at the first 6 months of employment. The survey also revealed that Oxford spends more money on libraries and computers than any other University when analyzing expenditure per student. This follows reports that the University has the biggest financial surplus of any UK university, despite falling from £20.5 million to £16.5 million. Spending on facilities, though, such as for sport, recreation and housing, was much lower totaling only 283 compared to Bath, who topped spending, with 419. This lower figure though is in part due to the collegiate nature of the University. The survey assesses a range of criteria including teaching and research assessment, entry standards and the student to staff ratio. Oxford reached the top last year after the rankings system was reworked to take account for the balance of arts and science within the universities. Cambridge had always been placed above Oxford because of its higher number of scientists.
ARCHIVE: 2nd Week TT 2003

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