Mon-Fri 8-17, Sat-Sun 10-16
(UK time)

How data is collected for university rankings in the UK: methodology

Show all
How data is collected for university rankings in the UK: methodology

We found out how the Complete University Guide rating is formed, how data is collected and the methodology as a whole looks like.

How and where information about universities is collected

The Complete University Guide (CUG) is one of the most cited rankings of British universities. When compiling the rating, the agency uses a complex methodology that requires reliable data on the performance of the university. What sources does the CUG use?

The agency collects all necessary information from public sources. For example, the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) is a competent official agency that collects, analyzes data and publishes quantifiable information:

  • Passing points
  • The ratio of the number of students per teacher
  • Funding for academic activities
  • Investment in infrastructure development
  • Availability of graduate students with honors
  • Graduate Prospects
  • Number of students who completed the degree
  • Percentage of international students.

In addition, the CUG has developed a protocol for collecting information directly from university representatives.


  • Passing scores - this indicator is calculated on the basis of data from the national UCAS system, through which all applicants for British universities apply.
  • How students rate college education - Information about student assessment can be obtained from the National Student Survey (NSS), which surveys alumni annually. The NSS asks graduates to rate the level of the university according to various criteria, and then displays the average score.
  • The level of research activity - each faculty of the university receives from 1 to 4 points, the collected data allows you to calculate the average score.
  • Research intensity - the number of researchers to the total number of academic staff.
  • Graduate Prospects - the ratio of the number of graduates who found a job or went on to study to the total.
  • The ratio of the number of students per teacher
  • Funding for academic activities - how much money the university allocated for the development of the library system, information technology, museums, galleries and observatories. This amount is divided by the total number of students per year.
  • Investment in infrastructure development - the amount of investment is divided by the total number of students per year.
  • Presence of honors degrees - the number of graduates with honors is divided by the total number of students per year.
  • The number of students who received a degree - the criterion allows you to track how many students graduated from education and did not transfer to another educational institution.

The sum of the criteria reflects the quality of the university:

  • Criterion = points
  • Minimum entry score = 1.0
  • The ratio of the number of students per teacher = 1.5
  • Research Activity Level = 1.0
  • Research intensity = 0.5
  • The ratio of the number of students per teacher = 1.0
  • Academic funding = 0.5
  • Investment in infrastructure development = 0.5
  • The presence of diploma students with honors = 1.0
  • Number of students earning a degree = 1.0.

comparison table

To compile a comparative table, the statistical technique Z-Transformation is used - the scores obtained are summed up and as a result, additional calculations are not required. Only five indicators require adjustment.

This is what the comparison table looks like in 2021:

Passing points

  • Minimum value = 93
  • Maximum value = 212
  • Average = 134.

Assessment of students

  • Minimum value = 3.80
  • Maximum value = 4.34
  • Average = 4.04.

Research activity level

  • Minimum value = 1.40
  • Maximum value = 3.36
  • Average = 2.70.

Research intensity

  • Minimum value = 0.07
  • Maximum value = 0.95
  • Average = 0.47.

Graduate Prospects

  • Minimum value = 56.5
  • Maximum value = 94.0
  • Average = 75.5.

The ratio of the number of students per teacher

  • Minimum value = 10.4
  • Maximum value = 24.5
  • Average = 16.1.

Funding for academic activities

  • Minimum value = 884
  • Maximum value = 2982
  • Average = 1715.

Investment in infrastructure development

  • Minimum value = 189
  • Maximum value = 1939
  • Average = 684.

Availability of graduate students with honors

  • Minimum value = 58.2
  • Maximum value = 94.2
  • Average = 76.2.

Number of students who completed the degree

  • Minimum value = 58.5
  • Maximum value = 98.8
  • Average = 84.7.

When compiling subject rankings, the same methodology is applied, but only five criteria: student assessment, level and degree of research, passing scores and graduate prospects.

Every year, the Complete University Guide publishes comments on the official website that should be taken into account when studying the national ranking, for example:

  • Birkbeck and the University of London have refused to submit their performance data to any rating system
  • The rating does not take into account large educational networks with a unique structure (Highlands & Islands), because they do not fit into the research parameters
  • The educational institution Open University does not take part in the assessment: university students study on a distance basis, and it is impossible to collect the necessary information.
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Kuban State University, Russia (World Economics); Westminster University (Business & Management).
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
Read also...
You may be interested

Your comment/review/question:
Callback Free course selection Online consultant