King’s College London in the US

Does anyone know if they will be more flexible with offers this year for US students due to the cancellations of the A Levels in the UK

The top universities: unlikely, for various reasons.

But it probably depends what kind of flexibility you’re looking for.

Tried to conduct a similar crude and simple analysis for postgraduate applicants’ thread chats. I quickly found that this was a far smaller pool.

Only the following universities have more than one page of chat, if at all, so far:

  1. Cambridge 310
  2. Oxford 230
  3. LSE 191
  4. UCL 67
  5. Imperial 49
  6. KCL 26
  7. Durham 6
  8. Edinburgh 6

I think this adds to the argument of prestige amongst students (if one combines both the undergrad and postgrad tables).

It is quite clear that the Golden Triangle are top, with Durham and Edinburgh having a strong case to be included in that same bracket locally.

Coincidentally (or maybe not), these 8 universities are exactly the only ones Oxbridge students regarded as peer universities with Oxbridge in the post I made in #34 on this thread.

They also heavily align with my perception of prestige and reputation of UK universities that I posted on another thread last year:

By the time one looks at international reputation/prestige of the universities, then Durham definitely drops a peck from the group.

The major surprise in the postgrad table is Manchester, which I expected to be more prominent in the postgrad space. This just confirms my repeated argument that despite its alumni successes and high rankings in international league tables, it lacks on-the-ground local prestige, just like NYU lacks in the US despite its alumni successes and high global rankings.

Looking where Marshall Scholars select to study in the UK with their 2/3 year scholarships can also give an insight into how UK universities are perceived in the US.

The Marshall Scholarship is a postgraduate scholarship for the most highly intellectual US students and is one of the toughest scholarships to obtain as applicants require a recommendation to even qualify to apply. About 33% of succesful (i.e. selected) applicants are top HYPSM graduates.

Successful applicants get to attend any UK university or universities, in any city, and study any subject (except MBA, Financial Economics and some Oxford courses) for up to 3 years.

Only 2 years funding is guaranteed; the 3rd year is for those who decide to extend their studies to a PhD and they would need to apply for additional funding, which may be turned down.

They are allowed to pick, and apply to, two universities as their first & second choice. They can then attend one university for the first year and a different one for the second year. Or they can do both years of study at one university. Or they can even do only one year of postgrad studies at a university and end the scholarship without doing the second year.

Here is a league table of the UK universities these highly elite US students elect to study using their prestigious scholarships from year 2000 to 2019:

  1. Oxford (285)
  2. Cambridge (137)
  3. LSE (63)
  4. UCL (47)
  5. Imperial (34)
  6. KCL (30)
  7. Edinburgh (29)
  8. SOAS (26)
  9. St Andrews (14)
  10. Sussex (10)
  11. Manchester (8)=
  12. Queens Belfast (8)=
  13. Queen Mary (8)=
  14. Glasgow (7)=
  15. Goldsmith (7)=
  16. Bristol (6)=
  17. Birmingham (6)=
  18. Durham (5)=
  19. York (5)=
  20. Nottingham (5)=
  21. Sheffield (5)=

Note: I have removed LSHTM from the list because it is a purely postgrad institution and not of interest. Otherwise it would have been No. 6 with 34 Marshall Scholars choosing to study there.

So, again, it is dominated by the Golden Triangle universities. It is surprising Manchester is not that frequently selected.

Warwick has only ever had 3 Marshall Scholars in these 20 years. While Exeter had never had a single one.

In addition, because of their popularity, if a candidate puts one of Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, KCL, LSE or UCL as their first choice institution, none of these six universities can then also be listed as second choice institution.

So one cannot have Cambridge as first choice and LSE as a second choice. The applicant will have to pick other universities not in this group of six universities as a second choice.

This mean all these London 4’s Marshall Scholars attendees figures suffer because those who select Oxbridge as their first choice cannot apply/select to attend them too as second choice. And majority of these elite applicants will definitely apply to attend Oxbridge. So I would argue that the London 4’s popularity amongst these elite students is even more significant than these figures suggest.

It seems to me that relying on the number of pages on TSR for the various universities, even as a rough or indirect measure, is not particularly meaningful unless one takes into account (at minimum) the number of subjects the universities offer. For example, while students on TSR planning to study law would be expected generate posts for the universities that offer law, they would not be expected to do so for the universities that do not. The number of pages generated by such students (at least in isolation) speaks more to the breadth of subjects the universities offer (though obviously demand plays a role as well, especially in the case of Oxbridge).

Hi CaliPops,

No, I don’t think this argument is valid.

I have already taken that into account this, and I am sure it has low bearings on the number of pages created.

If it did, the likes of LSE would not be above the likes of KCL, Manchester, Bristol and co.

Even St Andrews will not be close to Edinburgh in number of pages.

The most plausible way to assess “the number of subjects that UK universities offer” is to review research-intensive universities’ submissions for REF Assessment, which is a government system of assessing universities research capabilities annd determine how much to allocate research funding to each of them for the next 7 years.

Virtually all such UK research-intensive universities do research in their course areas and use these to attract funding, it is just the size and quality of research that differs. So virtually all of them submit for all the subjects they offer courses in.

The REF 2014 had a maximum of “36 units of assessment”, here were submissions numbers (I have arranged them in the order of the last table ranking on post #73):

  • Oxford subjects were in 31 units
  • Cambridge subjects were in 32 units
  • Durham subjects were in 23 units
  • UCL subjects were in 36 units
  • LSE subjects were in 14 units
  • Imperial subjects were in 14 units
  • KCL subjects were in 27 units
  • Warwick subjects were in 23 units
  • Edinburgh subjects were in 31 units
  • St Andrews subjects were in 20 units
  • Bristol subjects were in 31 units
  • Manchester subjects were in 35 units
  • Leeds subjects were in 33 units
  • Birmingham subjects were in 33 units
  • Nottingham subjects were in 32 units
  • Glasgow subjects were in 32 units
  • Exeter subjects were in 25 units
  • Bath subjects were in 13 units
  • QMUL subjects were in 21 units
  • York subjects were in 24 units

Source: REF 2014 Sector Results 1 | Wonkhe

I guess it is clear there is no pattern observed showing the “number of subjects the universities offer” influences this ranking.

If it did, major city universities will reside more at the top of the rankings.

The real large city universities with good breadth of subjects like Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham and Glasgow did not even make Top 10 in the rankings. While 2 very small specialists, LSE and Imperial, did.

Other major city universities like Sheffield, Newcastle, Belfast, Cardiff, Liverpool, Southampton and co will offer far more number of subjects than some universities on that table, yet they are not even in the table, talk less of being at the top of the table.

  • Sheffield subjects were in 35 units
  • Newcastle subjects were in 28 units
  • QUB subjects were in 28 units
  • Cardiff subjects were in 27 units
  • Liverpool subjects were in 26 units
  • Southampton subjects were in 26 units

Have a look at the Metropolitan map here:

If breadth of subject was that significant, they should all be comfortably beating Bath, at least.

So the number of pages generated by students does not speak more to the breadth of subjects the universities offer.

Bread of subjects matter, but it is not the main factor from my analysis of the factors. It would carry lower weighting in the list of factors.

I did state “obviously demand plays a role as well.” To be fair though, I probably should not have said that the number of pages speak “more” to breadth when the message I intended to convey is that breadth certainly has an impact and should be taken into account quantitatively.

For example, using your numbers, if LSE had 238 pages on TSR but offered only 14 units, that might suggest to me more demand per unit offered than UCL, which has 251 pages for 36 units. UCL will certainly have pages generated for it with respect to units that LSE does not offer. The fact that UCL has more pages overall certainly does not indicate to me that UCL is a more in-demand school with respect to the units in which UCL and LSE compete. I’m not saying the opposite is true either–the number of pages is not a measuring stick I would use at all–I just don’t buy the conclusion that the data as presented supports the conclusion being offered.

In any event, this is not really supposed to be a debate forum, so I will stop here. I will stop also because what started as a question about KCL versus U.S. universities has somehow devolved into a debate about the relative prestige of UK universities, and I don’t want to hijack OP’s thread any more than has already occurred.

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I am sorry, CaliPops, but I am afraid this second premise is wrong too.

I have to say that I should take majority of the blame for your coming up with this wrong premise as you are using the statistics supplied by myself.

The reality is that March is not really the optimal time for me to create the ranking table, but it was just the time period I was trying to make the point to others last year; hence I had to compile it. And I then followed-up and decided to do a LfL for the same time period this year to demonstrate a pattern.

In reality, the non-Oxbridge universities with the lowest acceptance rates (i.e. The London 4, Edinburgh and St Andrews) tend to give out offers much later than some other universities, hence have a buzz of activity on their pages post-March with excited and disappointed applicants chatting.

So the numbers you have used to come to your conclusion were inadequate because they do drastically change at the top after what you have seen (…aka My fault).

For example, last year, the number of pages eventually (i.e. at the end of all chats) were:

(3) LSE 428
(4) UCL 282
(8) St Andrews 131
(9) Edinburgh 103

This year, LSE is no more at 238 pages and UCL at 251 pages. LSE has gone well past UCL. The current and ongoing number of pages this year is:

(3) LSE 707
(4) UCL 470
(8) St Andrews 246
(9) Edinburgh 243

LSE has far less units [of subjects] than UCL but yet generates far more pages; and St Andrews is the same relative to Edinburgh. So you can see that having more units is not necessarily a significant or impactful factor in getting a generation of more pages as your premise suggests?

There are other more significant factors that leads to the generation of these pages. No one can really logically argue that it is mere coincidence that the set of universities seen as arguably “the group of most prestigious UK universities” are at the top of the tables (in some decent order), while those seen as not prestigious (like the ex-Polys) cannot even get past 5 pages.

So the number of pages is really a good measuring stick of prestige, which should be used in combination with other numerous measuring sticks. I am not a sole-metric analyst of complex and subjective issues like “Prestige”, as I know that will just lead to a naively wrong answer.

The reality is that the apt time to produce this ranking is around June-July when all offers have been made, and all the pages have almost slowed to a halt.

Really my bad! But, in March last year, I just wanted to use something indicative to make a point when I did the table ranking. The reality is that, after March, only about 6 universities really drastically change positions due to their continued or accelerated activities; so my indicativeness in March was still very valid.

I actually forgot to highlight that it cannot be coincidence that the outcome was similar when I did the same ranking for postgraduate applicants’ chat threads on post #83.

The same [arguably] "group of most prestigious UK universities” were at the top of that table too.

Again, UCL has 3 times the number of postgraduate student population of LSE, but yet LSE has far more postgraduate chat pages.

Furthermore, all the big city universities such as Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Sheffield, Leeds etc. have a large number of postgraduate course and also postgraduate student bodies, but yet they don’t have high applicants’ chat threads compared with the likes of even Durham that has far lower postgraduate courses and postgraduate student body than each of them.

I am responding only because I do not want my silence to be misconstrued as some kind of acknowledgement of your assertion.

Applying the same flawed analysis to updated numbers does not cure the flaw. Obviously, if the demand is low and/or the offer rate is very high, the number of pages will be lower. And for universities with a low number of pages, the impact of the number of units offered will be less detectable and less impactful (because the base number of pages is lower). But the situation is very different for universities where the demand per available seat is higher and the offer percentage is lower. For such schools, the number of units will have a much more meaningful effect, for the reasons I already explained.

I should have said in my last post that my silence should not be taken as acceptance or an acknowledgment of anything. I’m saying it now. I actually enjoy intellectually honest debate, but I understand this is the not the place for it, and I’m not interested on being opposite a filibuster. Peace.

Okay, saying this actually proves my point.

Universities with higher demand and lower offer rates tend to be the more prestigious universities.

So if the table is one that is placing such universities at the top (based on number of pages) and it (gradually going through the demand and offer rate spectrum) systemically puts lowest demand and highest offer rates universities at the bottom of the table, then it is a good “rough or indirect” indicator of prestige rankings.

The table from last year and this year does not back the premise “the breadth of units significantly gives more pages”; neither can it explain the table and its mix.

Other factors (such as reputation, demand levels, subject areas catered for, interests of elite & affluent students, entry grade requirements, processing bottlenecks etc.) have siginificantly more impact in determining the number of pages than breadth of units offered.

Now in June, and all the applicants’ chat pages have slowed or are slowing to a halt since offer deadlines have now passed and all offers have been given, this is really the optimal time to create the ranking table.

The Top 20 table for 2021 is now like this:

  1. Oxford 866
  2. Cambridge 819
  3. LSE 724
  4. UCL 484
  5. KCL 344
  6. Imperial 325
  7. Durham 308
  8. Edinburgh 283
  9. St Andrews 282
  10. Warwick 259
  11. Bristol 154
  12. Glasgow 136
  13. Manchester 94
  14. Bath 75
  15. Leeds 67
  16. Nottingham 62
  17. Exeter 55
  18. Birmingham 54
  19. QMUL 43
  20. Strathclyde, Sheffield and York 33

As I predicted in post #76, LSE and UCL got passed Durham; but the surprise is Imperial and KCL also passing Durham. I did not see the latter coming.

St Andrews and Edinburgh also surprisingly caught up with and passed Warwick.

Glasgow and Bath also shocked by both moving 4 places up since March.

Going deeper, when compared with last year’s Top 20, which changed slightly after I posted it too early in March last year, a pattern can be seen:

  1. Oxford 505
  2. Cambridge 478
  3. LSE 428
  4. UCL 282
  5. Durham 261
  6. Imperial 188
  7. KCL 149
  8. St Andrews 131
  9. Edinburgh 103
  10. Warwick 94
  11. Bristol 67
  12. Manchester 57
  13. Nottingham 51
  14. Glasgow 43
  15. Leeds 33
  16. York 30
  17. Lancaster 27
  18. Birmingham 21
  19. Sheffield 20
  20. Exeter 20

Trends show:

  1. The Golden Triangle dominate at the top in both years’ tables, and in many of the other tables I have put up on this thread (including the US’ prestigious Marshall Scholarship in post #84).
  2. The Top 11 universities are consistent in both years and are all the universities I have stated before as the most prestigious in the UK. (As seen in my link in post #83)
  3. The Top 11 would also be the source of the universities at the top of the table for the postgraduate ranking.
  4. LSE, despite its size and breadth of units, is the one that comes closest to Oxford and Cambridge in both years and for the similar postgraduate table.

The 6 Golden Triangle universities also dominate the UK listing order in all international prestige/reputation-focused league tables.

So I would definely argue that KCL is seen as elite both in the UK and the US, and only its fellow Golden Triangle members (i.e. Oxbridge, LSE, Imperial and UCL) can argue to be more elite than it in both nations.

Another A-Level results day!

The Golden Triangle universities plus Edinburgh, Durham, St Andrews, Bristol, Manchester and even Bath all don’t have any available spaces in clearing and adjustments. They are all fully subscribed.

  • Warwick does have many language courses and chemistry still on offer.
  • Glasgow does have many wide-ranging courses still on offer.
  • Exeter does have many wide-ranging courses still on offer.

Proves that outside of tsr speak:

  • Warwick is not super competitive outside of its flagship courses - maths and economics possibly you could throw physics in too.

  • Glasgow - not sure - hunting people paying non Scottish fees?

  • Exeter - not super competitive but talked about a lot on tsr, in the media etc as its where pretty good but not outstanding upper middle class kids from London want to go for the environment and social life more than the courses.

I think this was a strange year. given the last 2 years of covid many more good applicants chose places nearer to home which pushed up applications and student selection of places like Manchester and Leeds, at some detriment to others.

Yes, @Andrew_2000.

There are universities that seem to have some unrealistic and laughable “next-to-Oxbridge” reputation on TSR (and the jejune assertions on it), and this has led to so many people (whom have been mislead based on the hype they read on TSR) being confident about what they think they know.

If I was to give a short profile of some of UK’s most prestigious universities, I would say:

Oxford - Undisputed elite which is strong all round, but even more in softer fields; makes me think of Harvard

Cambridge - Undisputed elite which is strong all round, but even more in STEM; makes me think of Stanford

LSE - Specialist elite that churns out unbelievable quality despite its small size; makes me think of Caltech

Imperial - Specialist elite that seems to compete favourably with the undisputed elite, but still not regarded in the same class; makes me think of Columbia

UCL - Elite, despite its huge size, and is the leading full-faculty in the country (bar Oxbridge); it also has some excellent faculties; makes me think of UPenn

Edinburgh - Elite, research intensive and regional champion; makes me think of Duke

KCL - Elite that others love to target as not, because of some of its easier government-linked courses; makes me think of Cornell

Durham - Prestigious in the country, but is hardly known outside; makes me think of Notre Dame

St Andrews - Prestigious in the country and somewhat outside it, but not prominent in research; makes me think of Georgetown

Warwick - Prestigious in the country because of particular expertise in some quantitative fields it offers; makes me think of CMU

Bristol - Prestigious in the country and competing well with the near-Elites, but rigid in its middling prestige status; makes me think of USC

Manchester - Debatably prestigious and is known globally; its size is a challenge for its prestige as it has a lot of bums to fill, but it is very prominent in research; makes me think of NYU

I don’t regard Glasgow and Exeter as prestigious. They are just top universities; similar to Case Western Reserve and Tulane respectively.


Interesting take. Would say Imperial is more akin to CalTech/MIT just based on subjects - although a level down in terms of prestige, perhaps even a little less prestigious than Columbia. LSE would probably more compare well with somewhere like Chicago (strong econ, strong research, but not often talked about among general public). Agree with UCL - UPenn comparison and think that’s probably the right level prestige wise i.e. marginal difference of prestige versus Imperial and LSE.

On a global level, would say:
Oxbridge = HYPSM (+CalTech, within STEM, and UPenn Wharton, for business); Imperial/LSE/UCL = other Ivies, Chicago, Duke, Berkeley (far better international rep. than domestic U.S. prestige);
Edinburgh, Durham, Warwick = Georgetown, Hopkins, CMU, Michigan, UCLA, NYU, USC, etc. (top 20-25ish US university);
Bristol, Manchester, and KCL = Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Tufts, Rice, Emory, etc. - broadly equivalent to a top 40ish US university.

Not really sure you can place St Andrews directly into this. It’s probably the closest thing we have to a liberal arts college and hold similar prestige in the UK to somewhere like Williams in the US but does do some research. Perhaps akin to a Williams/Dartmouth hybrid international prestige wise?

On a global level?

Can you explain how you arrived at the conclusion that “on a global level” Durham & Warwick are more prestigious than KCL, Manchester and even Bristol?

What did you use to come to that conclusion?