Do league tables really matter? A student perspective
Student journalist, UCD
As a student journalist, I knew more than some of my peers about the Times Higher Education/QS World University Rankings. This year made for some excitement in my university, UCD, as we broke into the top 100 for the first time, coming in at number 89. While this is undoubtedly a cause for celebration, I never think that these ratings can ever be fully relevant, especially not for students.
This could just be a student perspective, but there is so much more to a university than its research output. UCD has long been regarded as a social hub. With a population bigger than many Irish towns – 22,000 – we have a wide, varied and colourful social scene in UCD. While a good social life is clearly not the most important thing in a university, I feel that it should be taken into account when a student is picking somewhere for further education. After all, while classes are hugely interesting, it can never be said that the college experience is based solely on academics.
Given that there have been funding cuts to the university, as with all universities recently, I, as an Arts student, have been feeling the pinch more than most. My Film Studies screenings are routinely interrupted by faulty equipment and a malfunctioning alarm, which tends to pick the most opportune moments to go off, usually in the middle of a completely silent film! I know that things are bad and that cuts are coming from every angle, but if my basic academic needs aren’t being met, I don’t know how much relevance I can personally place on these ratings.
Similarly, I think that more emphasis needs to be placed on student ratings of their lecturers. The people that really know how good a job a lecturer is doing are their students. In this way, I’m extremely glad that UCD has moved up the rankings. My lecturers, in both English and Film Studies, have always been excellent. UCD Arts and Humanities is lucky to have so many committed academics who are always on hand to help their students should we need it. However, I worry that further Arts funding cuts would render their job impossible. I’m sure that they are under considerable pressure to publish research and maintain UCD’s newly found glory within the Times Higher Top 100.
It seems like I’m completely contradicting myself, I know. I just wish that more emphasis was placed on things that students need in a university. Whether you’re coming to UCD to study Medicine or Sociology, you should be afforded security within your degree that will allow you to complete it to the best of your ability. A university is not just a research factory. Many institutions, especially those of UCD’s size, are home to many people. They are social hubs as well as studying areas and cannot be solely defined by one standard or the other. While academics in various colleges may be congratulating themselves on a great year within the rankings, it is time for these systems to become more relevant to those who actually attend these institutions, or plan to do so in the future.Explore posts in the same categories: higher education, university comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.