What are the UK's "Ivy League" universities now?

From The Times & The Sunday Times: breaking news & today's latest headlines

Whether head teachers, parents and pupils like it or not, A grades are increasingly influential in deciding whether a candidate gets an offer at a UK “Ivy League” university.*
Ok my knowledge of the UK is frozen in time, long long ago. Back in the day (in my mind) there was only Oxford and Cambridge, and you had better have gone to a Public school, and either be upper class or a wealthy industrialist’s offspring.

What are the latest ‘in’ schools now? Have they added to the twain?

Funny how they are using the Ivy League terminology, since from what I heard, Yale was designed to imitate Oxford (or was it Cambridge?).

Absolutely still Oxbridge, although at least half of the current undergraduate will be from UK state education I would think and there is much more to private education than the public schools - although anyone who can who doesn’t send their non-SEN child to a public school that suits is utterly mad.

Durham is no longer as good as it once was. Neither St. Andrews. Bristol still is, I think.

Those, combined with the London mob, ever shifting in who-is-best-at-what, being in the main Imperial, UCL, SOAS and LSE also (but latter two specialised).

Amongst the newer universities Warwick has an excellent reputation.

You may wish to then include the Red Bricks and Russell Group, many of which intersect. In fact you could probably call the top 10ish of the Russell Group our Ivy League.

But Oxbridge still remains incomparable.

BTW, in the UK public school = private school in the US , is that correct? .

Not precisely. Public schools are private schools, but most private schools are not public schools.

To tell you the truth I am not entirely certain of the precise definition of a public school - it may be admission to the Headmasters’ Conference or it may be Royal Charter, or it may be some other thing…

But you know one when you see one :slight_smile:

Just to head things off at the pass, the U.S. only has eight Ivy League schools: Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, Brown, Cornell, and The University of Pennsylvania (a private school despite the name). It is a sports conference and a quasi-fraternal organization and nothing more.

I only say that because so many people get confused on that point. Ivy League does not equal the best schools by any stretch although all of the schools in the Ivy League are excellent but there are many, many others. MIT is not in the Ivy League for instance even though it is basically right down the street from Harvard and the latter would kill for many of MIT’s students and researchers. Stanford isn’t in the Ivy League nor are about 100 or more schools of similar quality or better especially in certain subjects.

I went to Dartmouth for graduate school and it did have a very certain special feel to it just like the stereotypes and all of the students were very smart but it wasn’t especially difficult academically especially for them. Everyone was automatically assumed to be above average and it took a lot of slacking off for me to give someone less than a B because that is what I was told to do. The money, surroundings, and resources were incredible though. It was like an academic Disneyland.

I read some throwaway article in an English newspaper in Paris that lamented how Britain went way too egalitarian in their own elite schools and they lost their polish due to other schools getting the funds they would have had if they focused more on the higher levels like the U.S. does. I have no idea if that is true but the U.S. is really good at spending massive amounts of money on tertiary education even if many of our high schools aren’t very good.

Here is a recent ranked list of the world’s top 100 universities. The top 5 British ones, in order, are:
Cambridge (Number 2, after Harvard)
University College London (4)
Imperial College London (tied with Oxford at 5)
Oxford (tied with Imperial at 5)
University of Edinburgh (20)

My Alma Mater, Leeds, scrapes in at 99.

I guess you haven’t experienced the California State University system then (and I am sure it is far from being the worst). And wherever whatever money there still is is going, it sure as hell isn’t on faculty pay or facilities for students. Most faculty are adjuncts with minimal pay and no benefits, even in “good” economic times, and now many of the adjuncts (including me) are laid off, and even the tenured faculty are being furloughed. The students can’t get the classes they need to graduate.

Hey, mine made it at 61.


On Wisconsin!

Oh, and here is a British Universities “League Table” (using rather different criteria from the Top 100 World Universities list, I guess.)

Be careful with college ranking lists. There are bunches of them out there are they range over the place. All of the ones on that one are great schools but the ordering is a little odd and many of them, especially in the U.S. could be bumped off completely and replaced with something else easily if someone wasn’t paying attention. For instance, I can’t see why the University of Michigan couldn’t be replaced by the University of Virginia or several other large state schools for example. It is a perfect of example of trying to be way too precise to get the data to fit the question at hand. MIT is ranked below the University of Chicago but ask any person in the scientific and engineering fields which one is more influential and prestigious and you won’t get the same answer.

When the program(me) I was in at Exeter was cancelled, I started looking around at other schools in the UK to transfer to. A couple of university professors here in the Colonies singled out Warwick as a school with an excellent reputation and one that would be a benefit to have on your C.V. even in the States.

Guess what school finally approved my transfer today? I’ll give you a hint - I started a London to Coventry thread. :smiley:

Loughborough #10- :stuck_out_tongue: Surprised scumbag college isn’t on there somewhere.

Oxbridge is out in front by a mile. They can no longer compete with the absolute top US universities at the research level, but their undergrad education is world class. It’s perhaps not widely appreciated just what resources Oxbridge puts in to teaching - their tutorial system mandates teacher: student ratios of 1:2 or 3, with the teacher frequently being a college fellow (faculty member). The TA-type system is used to a degree, but not to the extent of the US. Mix in an exceptionally talented undergrad body as a whole, and you’ve got a world-leading teaching experience.

One thing mitigating this pedagogical nirvana is the Oxbridge college system, where you attend a college within the university and have the same tutors throughout your degree. You do choose your college, but its very hard to get the information on what the quality of teaching will be like. Luck out with 2 or 3 senior faculty members who take their teaching seriously and you’ll get a superbly-taught degree - maybe unmatched in quality. OTOH, if your tutor is an Oxbridge tosser ™, or a disinterested researcher, it could finish your interest in the subject forever.

There’s been a dramatic consolidation in UK higher education over the past 20 years, due to the realisation that there’s just not the funding to support 90 physics departments nationwide, we can only have 20 (say). So a lot of niche pockets of excellence have been lost as resources have been concentrated in the bigger universities. I have older chemistry colleagues who got their first degree at places like Aberystwyth, Bangor, Queen Elizabeth College London, Stirling university, Exeter university etc. These departments are now all gone. So we have nothing that really compares to the small US liberal arts system, where you can get a good degree from an undergrad-only place.

These tables are ridiculous. In what sense can a niche university like LSE be compared against the likes of St. Andrews or Warwick? One has only 4000 undergraduates and specialises in social sciences, the others are massive universities with a huge range of subjects and large under- and postgraduate student bodies.

Similarly, I’m always surprised by how Oxford tops out Cambridge on these lists. In my field (CS), Oxford cannot compete with Cambridge, and I’ve heard the same is true in mathematics and other technical subjects. Having said that, in CS, neither can compete with Edinburgh, though I may be a little biased :stuck_out_tongue:

Take any list with a grain of salt. The top 100 list is probably listed according to the average quality of research at the university. This is approximately the same as the quality of education for grad students, since as a grad student what you mostly want is to learn from the best people in the field. This is also somewhat important as an undergrad, but your needs as an undergrad will take in much more concerning the quality of teaching. Also note that the top 100 list is about the average quality of research, since obviously all universities will have some variation in the quality of the various departments.

And, as already been pointed out, any notion that the Ivy League universities are the absolute best in the U.S. is about a century out of date. They are all up there among the best of course, but I think that the most that could be said is that maybe all eight of them are scattered somewhere among the top sixty or so colleges and universities in the U.S. I think that anybody who calls a list of good colleges “the Ivy League of such-and-such area” is so confused that they aren’t worth listening to.

I absolutely agree that none of these Top 100, or League Table (or whatever) rankings mean very much. Indeed, the two I posted, both from the same newspaper, disagree with one another quite substantially. I also agree that if one is looking for a college at which to study, you should be looking to compare particular relevant departments and subject areas rather than the institution overall.

However, almost any such list, if it is the product of any sort of quantitative research at all, is going to be more objective and reliable than the opinions based on scuttlebutt and (inevitably very limited) personal experience that any individual, even an experienced academic, that any individual is going to be able to pull out of their ass. Such lists provide the best sort of answer available to the OP’s question.

Notice that the two lists aren’t even claiming to measure the same thing. The Top 100 list is apparently rating the quality of research. The League table is rating the quality of teaching. These two things are related but aren’t the same.

The definitive list of UK university research quality is the Research Assessment Exercise(RAE) carried out by the government every 6 years. This is one of the most important events in a UK university lifecycle and determines the funding and viability of every department in the country.

In times past the assessment boiled everything down to a number between 1-5*, which made for nice simple lists. The last RAE (2008), however, was much more parameterised and presented a series of rankings according to different metrics. This gives universities a lot more lattitude in spinning the results according to which data they choose to present - but fundamentally the data is an accurate reflection of quality if you’re prepared to look at it as a whole. Worth doing for anyone thinking of graduate work in the UK.

Go University of York #11 in the UK list #70 in the world list.

That’s got to be a mistake on which University of Illinois they put on there, right?

Both my parents had a pretty plain lower-middle-class education and went to Oxford. It can’t be that excluive if you’re smart.

As my dad pointed out once, N. American high schools teach almost nothing, catering to the lowest common denominator. Then you get into university, and N. American universities force-feed you an incredible amount of knowledge in some specialties, so the best of either side of the pond are comparable after 4 years.

Of course, his educational exposure was also “frozen in time, long long ago”.