New rankings always interest universities, but a league table that assesses the numeracy performance of each university’s graduates might interest them and terrify them in equal measure.
Saul Posel and Joe Morris, co-founders of Grad Diary, launched their website in 2010 to help graduates in the job market.
As part of the site, they set up free online numeracy tests for students to use for practice, in the event of such a test being a requirement in future job applications.
“The way that applications for companies – especially financially focused companies – are going, the majority require an applicant, at some stage, to take an online numeracy test,” said Mr Posel. The data from these tests were compiled by Mr Posel and Mr Morris to create a ranking for individual universities based on their graduates’ average scores out of 20, as each participant is asked to state the university they attended.
The first league table went live at the end of January and since then the number of people taking the test has jumped, as the rankings have gained a competitive edge.
Mr Posel said that although the table is currently “not the most serious thing in the world” and is “a little bit of fun to get people involved and thinking”, it will be “a more central part of what we feature on the site” because it is a “genuinely useful” tool.
Who’s in the top 10?
Earlier this month, the pair published a final table for the academic year 2013-14. The University of Oxford came top with an average score of 14.34 out of 20, narrowly pipping the University of Southampton on 14.28.
The rest of the top 10 comprised the University of Leicester, Imperial College London, Durham University, the University of Bath, London School of Economics, the University of Essex, Loughborough University and University College London.
The University of Cambridge was ranked 16th.
Anyone viewing the table critically might point out that the universities at the top might reflect the profile of graduates using the website.
Mr Morris and Mr Posel explained that they did not originally bargain for such a high level of student interest in the table.
“[We were] looking out of curiosity…seeing how many students from each university had taken tests; how well people were performing,” said Mr Morris.
Mr Posel said: “So we put a very simple [table] on the site which had the top 20 and we were amazed by the interest and uptake. We saw that people became very loyal to their university and wanted to help them rise up [the league].”
He added: “Companies are always looking for the best candidates. They see anything that encourages students to do more research, or practise skills that will make them better or more attractive for a role, as a positive thing.”
Mr Morris said: “We’ve had really positive feedback, only positive feedback, from companies which are happy that we’re encouraging students to practise key skills.”