4 Ways to Use League Tables to Help Your Students Make the Right Choice about Higher Education

To help you make the best use of league tables, we’ve come up with 4 different ways that you can integrate league tables into your careers delivery.

University league tables can be a fantastic way to help your students find the right university courses for them. However, it’s important that they’re used in the right way.

To help you make the best use of league tables, we’ve come up with 4 different ways that you can integrate league tables into your careers delivery.

Rank shortlists

One of the best ways to use league tables is as a shortlisting tool. You may find that students end up with a long list of prospective universities to research and investigate, and it can be handy to break it down by using league tables.

For example, it may be helpful for a student to begin their search looking only at the top 10 rated universities for their course area. Once they’ve got a sense for what the best universities are like, they can then move down the league table to take another 10. This is also helpful for encouraging students to begin thinking about applying to a range of universities to give them a fallback option if they were to miss their predicted grades.

In Centigrade, information about university entry requirements is used to create filters which allow students to look at ‘fallback’, ‘solid’ and ‘ambitious’ options for their university choices. Once you’ve used this filter, Centigrade displays information about the university rankings for each university right on each card, so it’s easy for your students to make decisions about how to prioritise their research.

Use a range of metrics

There’s lots of different league tables, and each track and weight their metrics in different ways. It’s important that you’re aware of the different ways that the universities are ranked, and that you use a range of metrics and rankings together to get a full picture of a university’s performance.

For example, the Times Higher Education rankings use scores for teaching, research, citations and industry income to build up their picture of university rankings. The Guardian rankings use a range of student satisfaction metrics on course, teaching and feedback, alongside spend per student, value added scores, and Destination of Higher Leavers data on the percentage of students who are in a career within 6 months.

By understanding the different league tables and highlighting different metrics to students depending on what they find important in a university, you can really begin to explore the strengths and weaknesses of different universities in a personalised and tailored way.

Take an individual approach

Of course it’s important to ensure that your careers delivery is individual and personalised. This is even more essential when it comes to using league tables, as the relevant metrics will vary hugely depending on a student’s requirements.

For example, while academic students may want to look at the top performing research universities, this may be less relevant for students with a real interest in extracurricular activities.

To do this, ask each student to think about what’s important to them when it comes to their higher education choices. Then, advise them to focus on the relevant metrics within league tables for them.

Be course specific

When you’re using league tables, it’s also important to take a course specific approach, as well as looking at general rankings. Most universities have specialisms and strengths in specific course areas, and this can often be missed if students only look at general university-wide rankings.

Encourage your students to dig into the rankings by course areas. This can turn up surprising universities and may get them to think outside the box when it comes to their higher education options.

COA offer a range of products that can help with your careers delivery. Centigrade is our higher education destination matching tool, which can help guide your students' research into their university choices.