Durham University is the third-best university in the UK, according to the latest Sunday Times University Guide.
Students and staff have expressed their delight as the Sunday Times University Guide 2012 ranked Durham in the nation’s top three universities.
The ranking is the highest that the University has ever achieved in this particular guide, and is an improvement of three places on last year.
In the national rankings, Durham sits just behind Cambridge in first position and Oxford in second. The University is again comfortably the North of England’s top institution, with Newcastle and Sheffield the nearest competition, coming in at twelfth and thirteenth respectively.
Professor Chris Higgins, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “This latest league table is recognition for the distinctive research-led and rounded education Durham University and its College system offers some of the most able and motivated students from the UK and around the world.
“Durham is an ancient place of scholarship and yet is also one of the leading full-subject universities in the UK in the 21st Century.”
The Sunday Times guide measures universities on student satisfaction, teaching and research quality, entrance standards of new students, degree results, student/staff ratios, graduate unemployment and drop-out rates.
The University scored particularly highly on graduate prospects. 82% of Durham graduates enter a graduate-level position on leaving university, with an average salary of £21,300.
Also, with 98.3% of students completing their degree course at Durham, only Cambridge has a smaller percentage of students dropping out.
This year, the table has seen some major fluctuations in certain results due to changes in its criteria. The extra emphasis on the overall learning experience has meant, notably, that Imperial College London fell from third to fourteenth, while others such as the University of Exeter jumped from seventeenth to ninth.
The news comes shortly after the 2011 QS World University League ranked Durham in the world top 100 in its overall table, and joint fifteenth for graduate employability. Earlier this year, the Complete University Guide 2012 ranked Durham fifth in Britain, while the Guardian’s table placed Durham eighth.
Reactions from the Durham student body have been positive.
Daniel Rowbottom (2nd year, Mathematics, St. Cuthbert’s Society) was particularly impressed by the graduate prospects: “It doesn’t really surprise me. The majority of Durham students seem to be very academic and also have very good people skills.”
Meanwhile, Nadia Galitzine (2nd year, Sport, St. Cuthbert’s Society) was equally pleased: “It’s great to see that Durham has been recognised as a high-achieving university not only by the student population but by the country as a whole.
“Hopefully it will contend for the top spot against Oxbridge in the future.”