For the first time in the guide’s 30-year history, Oxford and Cambridge have been defeated
According to The Times’ Good University Guide, the more famous Oxford and Cambridge universities placed second and third, respectively, lagging behind St Andrews’ relative strengths in categories such as student happiness, degree completion rates, and accepting the best qualified candidates.
In the results released on Friday, the University of St Andrews, Scotland’s oldest university, achieved first place. The university, which was founded in 1413 and is located on a windy coast north of Edinburgh, is where Prince William met his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, and is popular among international students.
After St Andrews was named the best institution in the UK, Oxford and Cambridge universities were defeated in the national league table for the first time. In the 30-year history of The Times and The Sunday Times’ Good University Guide, no university had ever been ranked higher than the elite Oxbridge universities. Due to closed campuses and a transition to online instruction, the majority of colleges reported a significant drop in student satisfaction and teaching quality this year.
St Andrews, which was lauded for adapting its small-class teaching methodology to online delivery, witnessed just a minor drop in satisfaction rates after that, securing the top rank for 2021. Cambridge, on the other hand, slid from first to third position, while Oxford maintained its second-place finish from 2020. St Andrews officials said the school has been closing in on the top spot after consistently ranking in the top three in the list in recent years. Alastair McCall, editor of The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide, concurred, saying the outcome was “no fluke” for the 600-year-old Scottish university.
Cambridge University fell from first to third place in this year’s guide, as most universities reported a significant decline in student satisfaction as a result of campus closures during the epidemic and the following shift to online study. Oxford University maintained their second-place finish from 2020. It finished behind Cambridge University on that occasion, in a 1-2 finish for Oxbridge universities that had stayed unchanged until this year’s edition.
‘I am happy for our students, staff, and alumni,’ said Professor Sally Mapstone, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of St Andrews. They are the ones who made this possible. ‘As a community, we strive for greatness all of the time, and we have a plan that hasn’t been hesitant to believe that by combining the best teaching, world-leading research, and an unwavering commitment to student satisfaction and accomplishment, St Andrews could challenge at the very top.’
‘Of course, we’ll be pleased with this outstanding outcome, and I expect some friendly cross-border joking among colleagues.’ ‘Principals have a long tradition of celebrating positive league table results while quietly disregarding those that are less flattering, and I intend to follow that tradition.