Oxbridge takes top honours in latest law faculty league table

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By Jonathan Ames on

London’s Queen Mary trails a distant third in newspaper list, while a barrel-load of Russell Group big names disappoints


Moan about elitism ‘til the cows come home, but Oxbridge has done it again — taking the top two slots on a leading league table of law schools released earlier this morning.

Cambridge wins top honours. In pipping rivals Oxford, the light blues arguably benefitted from concentrating all efforts into one law course, while the dark blues’ faculty is currently spread over six courses.

While Cambridge and Oxford were clear winners, the list will trigger fulminating anger at some big name law faculties, not least Birmingham, Bristol, Exeter, Leeds, Liverpool, Southampton and Warwick universities.

The ancients were battling for top places in a league table produced by the newspaper of choice of many a tweed-jacketed, leather elbow patched lecturer at more modern institutions, The Guardian.

In the newspaper’s annual assessment of UK universities, the Cambridge law course comprehensively outstripped its closest rival. In a Eurovision-style points system, the Cam-siders bagged a maximum 100 points, while that lot at the top of the Cowley Road managed an overall score of only 93.1.

However, both law faculties nailed the same student satisfaction rating of 96. There also wasn’t much in it between the scores for teaching assessment: Cambridge bagged a 95.8 rating, while Oxford scored 94.5.

But Cambridge pulled ahead in the feedback category, beating Oxford by a rating of 80.4 to 73.7.

And crucially, a Cambridge law degree proved a much more valuable boost to career prospects than an equivalent from Oxford. Some 91% of graduates of the former found graduate-level jobs or were studying further within six months of graduation, while that figure for the latter was 84%.

Cambridge won despite Oxford throwing more staff at fewer students. The student-to-staff ratio at Oxford was much better than at Cambridge — 11.4 compared to 15.1.

Trailing considerably behind the top two was London University’s Queen Mary law school, which received an overall rating of 85 points from a possible 100. And Queen Mary’s employability figure was woefully behind the top two at just 66%.

Rounding out the top five were Durham on 84.5 points and the London School of Economics on 84.1. They racked up employability figures of 84% and 85%, respectively.

The highest placed university from outside the Russell Group was the law school at Aberdeen University, which ranked a respectable 11th on 77.7 points, with an employability figure of 84.

The highest placed former polytechnic — or “new university” — was the law school at Edinburgh Napier, which placed 13th on 76.3 points, but no employability figure was listed.

The big name losers on The Guardian league table are likely to be considered as Exeter University. Its well-respected law school finished in the bottom half of the table, in 54th place with just 64 points.

But Liverpool University’s law faculty did not fare much better — finishing only three positions higher on 64.3 points.

Other bruised egos include Bristol University in 31st position and 69.3 points, Leeds in 29th (70.1), Southampton in 27th (70.2), Warwick in 26th (71), Birmingham in 25th (70.2) and Manchester in 24th (71.5).

Several law faculties seemed to come from out of the blue to feature fairly high on the list. For example, the law school at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen clocked in at 12th place on 77.6 points, and former poly Oxford Brookes placed a respectable 16th on 74.9.

The two law faculties with the lowest employability figures were those at Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of the West of Scotland, which both came in on 34%.

Propping up the bottom of the table of those law faculties actually ranked was Southampton Solent University, which racked up an overall rating of 31.9 points; however, it did manage an employability figure of 55%.

And while the Cambridge law dons will be tempted to get absolutely hammered on the fizz this evening, they should bear in mind that they were still pipped in the QS world rankings — updated at the beginning of last month — by Harvard.

The Bostonians racked up a QS rating of 99.8, while Cambridge managed only 96.7, with Oxford in third place on 96.