Swimming with the big fish now

York is now in the top 100 of the World’s universities, having been rated 74th. Strangely enough, this statistic didn’t have me leaping for joy. I know the league compares 40,000 universities worldwide, making 74th fairly impressive, but universities that had been ranked lower than us in the UK league, were ranked higher in the world-wide rankings.

Initially this discovery had me laughing wryly at the inconsistency and unreliability of statistics. It was only then that I noticed the different criteria that made up the rankings. The top criteria in my mind had been included in the UK league table, in which we rank 8th, whereas the world review did not individually rank teaching excellence, 1st and 2.1 degrees awarded, dropout rates or A level grades demanded, statistics which had had a huge influence on my decision to come to York.

The assessments of the world rankings have pulled York into a much bigger arena, compiling all the above into the dauntingly blunt assessment of “peer review”, and also including the rankings of “international staff” and “international student”.

Therefore as we approach those hideous months where the grey winter skies and concrete of campus ally against us, I start to wonder, 74th? How did we manage that?! Most of campus can currently be described as a building site, with other areas begging for attention; the search results “1 book…4 requests” and “no records found” in the J.B Morrell Library are a frequent occurance, and on Monday week 2 half the printers on campus buckled under the pressure of numerous assessed essay deadlines. Can our University truly compare to the big fish of international universities?

The development of Heslington East, it seems, can be the only basis for the massive leap of 50 places (124th to 74th), from last year. I can hardly imagine York improved, developed and expanded to the standard promised by the University News Press, but the words “new academic complexes”, “new departments”, and the almost unimaginable speculation of a “25 metre swimming pool”, are seductive promises indeed. Plans to complete Heslington East however are estimated to take between 10-15 years, and so it’ll be too late for most of us to appreciate and I, like many others, will leave University with the memory of infamously bad accommodation facilities in my first year. However, let us comfort ourselves with the reassuringly high mark of 91, in the worldwide rankings of “Employer review”. For, as I’m sure is becoming more and more uncomfortably apparent to final year students, there is another world outside this semi-comfortable bubble. Let’s hope we can contend with it.

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