The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024: York shortlisted for University of the Year as graduate earnings become key criteria

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The University of York has been named Yorkshire’s best university – and has been shortlisted for The Sunday Times’ University of the Year title.

The campus institution came second only to Durham in the northern charts, with a national ranking of 15th. The University of Sheffield is Yorkshire’s second-best place to study (18th nationally), followed by Leeds, Hull, Huddersfield, York St John and Sheffield Hallam in the north’s top 10.

Leeds Beckett, traditionally seen as the city’s 'second’ university, has now fallen behind two newer rivals, Leeds Arts and Leeds Trinity, in the rankings. Bradford University is rated the poorest performer in Yorkshire.

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This year’s Sunday Times Good University Guide has put an emphasis on graduate earnings in light of recent government pressure on ‘low value’ degree courses. A new searchable database enables users to look at subjects at each institution and see the average salary. Computer scientists from Imperial College London can earn £64,000, while business, management and marketing graduates from Oxford earn £58,000. The poorest prospects are for University of Central Lancashire drama and dance students, who are on less than £20,000 within 18 months of leaving.

The original University of York campus was built on the Heslington Hall estate in the 1960sThe original University of York campus was built on the Heslington Hall estate in the 1960s
The original University of York campus was built on the Heslington Hall estate in the 1960s

The Guide also analyses popular courses, with interest in computer science, games design and robotics spiking 10 per cent since last year – a 31 per cent rise in four years.

Both Oxford and Cambridge have managed to increase the proportion of entrants from comprehensive schools in the past five years, by 13 and nine per cent respectively.

The Guide considers diversity and social inclusion, ranking Durham at the bottom.

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Guide editor Helen Davies said: “The higher education landscape has never been tougher. It is more competitive to get a place at many of our top institutions; the cost of attending university has soared, leaving graduates with extraordinary debt; and in many cases campus life still bears the scars of the pandemic. Meanwhile lecturers are on strike and the marking crisis is a running scandal.

“It means any prospective student, parent or carer needs to think hard about whether university is the right choice, and then where to study and what subject. It’s where this guide — our 30th edition — is here to help. Our online version has so much more on how the universities compare subject by subject, a guide on campus life, and what scholarships and bursaries may be on offer.

Though the University of the Year title went to University College London, York was also on the shortlist.