How Do UK Medical School Rankings Work?

Admissions

2021-02-02

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 Complete University Guide, which puts a lot of emphasis on research metrics and can be seen as a more traditional style of university league table.
  • The Guardian, which has a slightly different focus, not looking at research, but focusing more on levels of student satisfaction and employment prospects.

Which Medical School Ranking is Most Important for Me?

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.

The teaching method (traditional, integrated or problem based) is often an important aspect of choosing a medical school.
@medifyx - ‘There’s more to consider than just league tables’

Here's What Medical Students Have to Say

'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

A group of medical students sitting in a line

The Complete University Guide's Ranking Explained

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!

The Complete University Guide's Medical School Rankings

Rank

The Complete University Guide (2021)

=1

Dundee

=1

Glasgow

3

Oxford

4

Aberdeen

5

Edinburgh

6

Queen Mary

7

Cambridge

8

St Andrews

9

Imperial College London

10

Swansea

11

University College London

12

Bristol

13

Newcastle

14

Queen's Belfast

15

Keele/p>

16

Exeter

17

Warwick

18

Cardiff

19

Brighton and Sussex

20

Sheffield

21

Lancaster

22

Birmingham

23

Leeds

24

Leicester

25

King's College London

26

Nottingham

27

Southampton

28

Plymouth

29

East Anglia

30

St George's

31

Manchester

32

Liverpool

33

Hull York

34

Buckingham

35

Central Lancashire

The Complete University Guide's Results Breakdown

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. 

The Guardian's Ranking Explained

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 University Guide Medical School Ranking

Rank

The Guardian (2021)

1

Dundee

2

Aberdeen

3

Edinburgh

4

Oxford

5

Brighton and Sussex

6

Cambridge

7

Swansea

8

Keele

9

St Andrews

10

Leeds

11

Queen Mary

12

Glasgow

13

Newcastle

14

Bristol

15

Imperial College London

16

Queen's Belfast

17

Cardiff

18

University College London

19

Plymouth

20

Birmingham

21

Sheffield

22

Central Lancashire

23

East Anglia

24

Exeter

25

Lancaster

26

Warwick

27

Southampton

28

Liverpool

29

Nottingham

30

Leicester

31

King's College London

32

Manchester

33

Hull York

34

St George's

35

Buckingham

The Guardian's Results Breakdown

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.

International Medical School Ranking

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.

Rank

QS Medicine Ranking (2020)

1

Harvard

2

Oxford

3

Cambridge

4

Stanford

=5

Johns Hopkins

=5

Karolinska Institutet

7

UCLA

8

University College London

9

Yale

=10

Imperial College London

=10

UCSF

12

MIT

=13

Columbia

=13

Toronto

15

Pennsylvania

=16

Duke

=16

Melbourne

18

Sydney

19

Edinburgh

20

King's College London

What is the Official Ranking System for Medical Schools? 

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.

A medical school graduate smiling at the graduation day

Direct vs Graduate Entry

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

So Do University Rankings Matter for Medicine?

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.

Summary

  • Research scores can often be disregarded for medicine.
  • The Guardian places more emphasis on measures of student satisfaction than The Complete University Guide.
  • Oxford and Cambridge do not always come out on top in medicine!
  • The Complete University Guide isn’t particularly useful for Graduate Entry Medicine. 
  • When considering rankings, you first have to think about your needs and priorities. 
  • As far as medicine is concerned, due to the near 100% employability of graduates it will not make that much difference where you get your degree from unless you want to go into research. 
  • There are many other factors to consider when choosing the best university for you, such as location, teaching style, entry requirements and research options.

Succeed in your Medical School interview. Start today for only £20

Membership will expire on Wed 31 Mar 2022 23:59 UK time

Enroll Now

Helping you prepare. Try Medify BMAT Today

Buy Now

Write your personal statement. Try Medify Today

Buy Now

2 in 3 students prepared for UCAT with Medify. Try Medify Now

Buy Now

2 in 3 students prepared for UCAT with Medify. Try Medify Now

Buy Now

Helping you prepare. Try Medify BMAT Today

Buy Now

Write your personal statement. Try Medify Today

Buy Now

2 in 3 students prepared for UCAT with Medify. Try Medify Now

Buy Now

2 in 3 students prepared for UCAT with Medify. Try Medify Now

Buy Now

2 in 3 students prepared for UCAT with Medify. Try Medify Now

Buy Now

Study medicine in Europe. Try Medlink Students Now

Buy Now