There are various medical school rankings out there, and it isn't always obvious which ones to take into consideration.
The most popular league tables are:
The answer isn't always straightforward and very much depends on you. For many students, research is of little to no importance. However, to the select few who want to keep their options open for a career in academia it may be a critical factor.
Prestige is another factor that isn’t equally relevant for everyone. While some students may want to go to a university with significant prestige, others care more about metrics like the student/staff ratio, which reflects how much attention they are likely to get.
Ultimately, when looking at how to get into medical school, deciding which factors are important for you depends on your values.
'Some metrics which might give you good information on the quality of a medical course could be: preparedness of graduates for the foundation programme, the SJT score, or the percentage of students successfully entering the academic foundation programme.'
Eilidh W. - Newcastle Graduate Entry Medicine - @thegraduatemedic
‘University Ranking Tables can be a bit hit and miss. At any medical school, the level of teaching will be high, so it doesn't have much of an effect on your prospects after graduation. I found the tables useful to look for schools that had a lower 'research intensity' score and incorporated some clinical exposure from early on. I knew that a more integrated course would be a better fit for me.’
Jacob R. - University of Dundee - @es_jacob
This ranking is the more traditional view of the difference between universities. Like The Guardian, it considers entry standards (average UCAS score), as well as graduate prospects.
The difference is that it only has one metric that takes into account student satisfaction, and it focuses on factors such as research quality and intensity, which many students will not find relevant. However, research is extremely relevant for some non-medical and non-vocational courses.
In this respect, The Complete University Guide does not fully take into account the nature of a medical degree, or the near 100% employability!
In terms of the overall quality ranking, it is a big win for the Scottish universities, with Dundee and Glasgow taking the top spots. Oxford comes in at third. Brighton and Sussex take the lead in student satisfaction, which could be of great importance to some students.
Graduate prospects do not differ much for medicine, due to the highly employable nature of the degree programme. Every university ranked comes in at over 97/100.
Three of the Guardian’s metrics relate to student satisfaction, namely: ‘satisfied with course’, ‘satisfied with teaching’ and ‘satisfied with feedback’.
They also look at student to staff ratio, and a ‘value added score’. Value added is an interesting and important factor, measuring the difference between students’ qualifications at entry and the degree level they achieve. It is a great way to see how much the university is contributing to students’ development. On the other hand, you will likely notice that the most competitive universities do not do well in this area, because they only take the highest achievers in the first place!
Some factors do not differ from The Complete University Guide, such as career prospects for graduates and entry tariff (UCAS points for entry).
Ultimately, the Guardian rankings are an attempt to put the focus back on the student experience, and away from traditional academic considerations and prestige.
The Guardian puts Dundee in the top spot. Oxford and Cambridge normally take the lead in most subjects, but in medicine the Scottish universities often come out on top. This Scottish dominance is again shown by Aberdeen coming a close second, and Oxford and Cambridge coming in fourth and sixth place respectively. Your decision as to whether you should apply to Oxford or Cambridge medical schools may be affected by this.
The most authoritative international medical school ranking is created by QS World University Rankings. The data is collated from various employers and relevant academics. Interpret this ranking with a note of caution as it does not consider student satisfaction at all.
Despite the large quantity of research into the best medical schools in the UK, there is no official ranking. There are many factors that can be considered subjective, and different rankings often do not agree with each other. Considerations such as ‘quality of research’ and ‘reputation’ do not have a clearly defined way of being measured, and this is probably not set to change.
Some ranking factors have no bearing on Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM). If we take The Complete University Guide for example, the entry standards score is based on UCAS points, which is not relevant when entering based on your degree qualification.
Research, as we have mentioned, is also of little consequence for most students, and graduate prospects are similar for any medical student, making that data unhelpful. Graduates would therefore be well advised not to base their decision on the Complete University Guide.
The Guardian does offer more insights for graduates looking to get into medicine. Student satisfaction is their main focus, and is always important to consider, as is the amount of staff support and feedback you receive.
If you are thinking about Direct or Graduate Entry Medicine, find out which universities are holding interviews online
Based on our analysis, we think there are other more significant factors to base your decision on. Since the subject is so competitive, the major hurdle for most entrants will be getting into any medical school. Another critical factor for many students is location, which is not considered by the league tables.