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Sussex ranked eighth best UK university

The Times Higher Education (THE) magazine’s World University Rankings 2010-11 has ranked the University of Sussex 8th in the UK. THE, published on 16 September, also places Sussex 16th in Europe and 79th in the world.

The university is ranked 4th in the league table for the impact of research produced which is calculated by research citation counts. Supporting Sussex’s research output, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Farthing said that “what is really making a different is the impact of our research. Our citation score indicates that we are producing research of outstanding quality.”

Sussex has the highest rankings amongst the 1994 Group of universities, which brings together 19 research-intensive universities including the University of Durham.

It is the first time this year that Times Higher Education has worked with Thomson Reuters, a company which provides information for businesses and individuals, to produce the league tables. The THE table also involved an invitation-only survey conducted by Ipsos Mori of over 13,000 academics.

The university was praised by the editor of THE, Ann Mroz, who said that “being ranked 79 in the world is an impressive achievement.  Any institution that makes it into this table is truly world class.”

The pleasing results come after the publication of the National Student Survey’s (NSS) results on 18 August which placed Sussex joint 7th in student satisfaction. It was up from 35th the previous year and for the past three years, Sussex rankings have improved.

The results come after an extensive campaign in February to boycott the NSS supported by the Students’ Union. The boycott began in protest against the proposed cuts to several areas in the university including services, jobs and courses.

The government-sponsored NSS produces results every year that are published on unistats.com. The results are taken from students in the final year of their undergraduate degrees across the UK.

According to the survey, over 90 percent of Sussex students are happy with their courses. The percentage for question 22 was the score for students’ “overall satisfaction” with their courses.

The national average score for all universities was 75 percent, whilst Sussex achieved an average result of 83 percent for all 22 questions. This is an increase of six percent from 77 percent in 2009.

Staff at Sussex were praised by Professor Claire Mackie, Pro-Vice- Chancellor, who said: “Sussex has made improvements in areas where schools and departments have targeted their action year on year, making significant improvements.”

Some have questioned Sussex’s high ranking and the value of these league tables all together. Sol Schonfield, Communications Officer for the Students’ Union said: “It’s great to see that the work by staff at the university and the enthusiasm of the students has been recognised nationally. However it is important to note that league tables such as the National Student Survey (NSS) rely on tick-boxes and multiple-choice questions and so offer only a two-dimensional view of the quality of an institution and the experience of students.”

Across many newspaper league tables, Sussex has improved. In the Guardian University Guide, the university was placed 15th in the UK while in the Times Good University Guide, Sussex rose to 21st this year, up 14 places from last year.

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