Published: 10 August 2015

The secret to the University of Surrey’s league table success

Over recent years, the University of Surrey has consistently featured in the top tier of all the major UK league tables, climbing from sixth to fourth place in the Guardian University Guide 2016, up to eighth place in the Complete University Guide 2016 and reaching eleventh position in The Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide 2015.

So what is it that gives the University of Surrey the edge over its competitors?

For Chemical and Petroleum Engineering student Mohammed Ismail, the rankings were a major deciding factor for his choice to study at Surrey. The 18-year-old undergraduate from Egypt explains the first thing he noticed was the incredible drive to succeed among both students and teachers. It’s infectious and highly motivating.

He adds that the academic support offered to students is also second to none. “They make sure you don’t leave the lecture or class without understanding the subject covered that day,” he says.

“If you have trouble with one of the points covered in the lesson, they make sure that you have understood it and will spend extra time with you if necessary. They give you guidance but they don’t spoon feed you the information.”

Industry connections

The University’s approach is to build knowledge and then help students transfer that knowledge into relevant skills for the fast changing work environment.

Indeed, the University is powered by a drive for innovation through its long established roots with industry and is now leading the way in the development of new 5G technology. The programmes on offer constantly evolve to meet the changing needs of the work environment.

Professional training placements

The University of Surrey prides itself on its real-world impact and industry connections. Its Professional Training placements, where students experience the working world as part of their undergraduate programme, give graduates a real head-start. It’s perhaps not surprising therefore that Surrey is ranked number two for graduate employability compared with chartered universities in England, according to figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

The opportunity to take part in a one year work placement as part of an academic degree was what made Surrey stand out from the crowd when choosing a university, admits student Hana Bader. The 24-year-old, who has just completed a Masters in Civil Engineering after joining as an undergraduate five years ago, says it is one thing to study a subject, but it is totally different to work in the industry. It was a way of putting into practice what she had learned.

She explains that the skills she learned from the world of work subsequently helped her to study better, by managing her time and workload more efficiently. Most importantly, the placement gives you an edge over other candidates come graduation day.

“The moment you apply for a job you already have one year’s work experience,” Bader says. “It really does set Surrey apart from the other universities.”

Top four for student experience

The final factor in the University of Surrey’s continued success in the league tables has been its long-term focus on student experience. Over the years, the University has worked hard to make sure students feel welcome, happy and safe.

Most first year students live on campus – a great way to develop new and lasting friendships. To ensure new students settle in, they are given a Student Life Mentor to help with living, academic and well-being issues.

The University’s academics have worked hard to make sure students are happy with the quality of their courses and they receive the teaching and guidance they need. Surrey has consistently ranked in the top tier for student satisfaction, and was rated fourth for student satisfaction in The Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide 2015 and fifth in the National Student Survey.

So what is the secret to Surrey’s league table success? Academic excellence, a unique approach to teaching and learning through long established links with industry, and a dedicated focus on student experience.

Learn more about Surrey in the league tables.


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