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Queen's still reigns as NI's top university in Times list

Queen's University remains the best university in Northern Ireland, according to an influential list.
Queen's University remains the best university in Northern Ireland, according to an influential list.

By Gillian Halliday

Queen's University remains the best university in Northern Ireland, according to an influential list.

It has climbed three places to stay within the top 40 in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020.

Ulster University has also climbed in the national rankings to joint 58th place.

The guide, which contains the full UK rankings, will be published in this weekend's Sunday Times and aims to provide the definitive rankings for UK universities and the most comprehensive overview of higher education.

Last year, Queen's was placed joint 38th and has now jumped three places to 35 while Ulster has risen two places from 60th place.

The guide cites QUB's increased spending on facilities and services - including its investment of £350m into capital projects - as one factor in its improved performance.

Earlier this year, the university opened its £39m School of Biological Sciences as well as establishing its Precision Medicine Centre of Excellence which hopes to develop artificial intelligence solutions to enable early, rapid and precise diagnoses of cancer.

The guide adds that such developments "sit alongside a commitment to diversity in the student population, with 30% of undergraduates receiving support from a £3.8m pool of funds for widening participation".

Describing Queen's as Northern Ireland's "premier university", the guide also points out that it has dropped out of the top 100 nationally for satisfaction with teaching quality. The institution, however, ranks first in the UK for knowledge transfer partnerships, and is in the top 30 UK universities for 2019 for its completion rate at nearly 92%, proportion of top-class degrees awarded, and for graduate job prospects (82.4%).

Its student experience was rated at 77.4%, nearly 3% below that of Ulster University (80.3%), with the guide describing the latter institution as scoring "significantly higher" than Queen's for both measures of student satisfaction used - covering teaching quality and the wider student experience.

In both areas Ulster ranks in the UK top 50.

Meanwhile, the guide praises Ulster University for its "extensive outreach programmes and financial aid packages", as well as investing "heavily" in its campus facilities for students.

It highlights its ongoing £250m development at its Belfast campus, and the fact that its Magee campus in Londonderry will welcome its first graduate medical students next year.

The university has also witnessed the opening of a £5m sports centre in the Coleraine campus alongside a £6.5m media centre. The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 will contain full profiles of all UK universities and a league table made up of nine indicators including research quality, graduate prospects and student/staff ratios.

Two further supplements will be published by The Times on September 23 and 24 which will focus on the best universities for teaching quality and student experience, and the universities that come top in different subject areas.

Expanded coverage and further information will be available to Times and Sunday Times subscribers at thesundaytimes.co.uk/gooduniversityguide.

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