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12 May 2014, 06:17
Oxford has lost out to Cambridge for the fourth year running in a new league table of universities.
The prestigious institutions took the top two places in the latest annual Complete University Guide.
In third place, the same as last year, was the London School of Economics and Political Science, followed by St Andrews, which moved up two places to fourth, and Durham, which holds on to fifth place.
The table uses available data to rank universities on nine areas - student satisfaction, research, entry standards, student to staff ratios, spending in academic services, spending facilities, the numbers of good honours degrees achieved, graduate prospects and completion rates.
The authors said that at many universities, student to staff ratios had improved this year due to institutions taking on more staff and falling student numbers, whilst more money is also being spent on student facilities and there has been a rise in entry standards.
David Jobbins, a spokesman for the Guide, said there had been a 6.4% year-on-year fall in undergraduate numbers in 2012/13 according to their analysis.
``It is that fall in some institutions and programme areas, coupled with the opportunity taken by some institutions, of which the University for the Creative Arts and the Arts University Bournemouth are good examples, to reclassify technical staff as academic staff, thus improving the student: staff ratio,'' he said.
Rounding out this year's top 10 were Imperial College London, Warwick, Bath, University College London and Exeter.
The biggest climbers in this year's table were the University for the Creative Arts which has moved up 24 places to 62nd, Abertay in Dundee which has risen 20 places to joint 91st, the Arts University, Bournemouth, up 18 to 57th, Derby, up 16 to joint 87th and Manchester Metropolitan, up 15 places to joint 73rd.
Ten universities fell at least 10 places. These were: Royal Agricultural University, down 32 places, Aberystwyth, down 17, Birmingham City, down 16, St George's, University of London, down 12, Hull, Northampton, Buckinghamshire New University and Anglia Ruskin, all down 11 places and Bedfordshire and Ulster, down 10.
In total, 123 universities were included in this year's guide, which is published online.
Principal author Dr Bernard Kingston said: ``Many of the changes this year are attributable to changes in definitions and weighting.
``There was an official and fundamental review of the staff record data between the two years, while the old distinction between graduate and non-graduate employment has been replaced by one between professional and non-professional employment.''
He added that the rankings give would-be students ``an accurate and independent guide to the UK university system''.