The performance of this year’s finalists has seen Magdalen and New College rise to claim first and second positions in the famous college rankings, while Merton has unprecedentedly sunk from first in last year’s table to fourth from bottom.
One college whose ranking did not change from last year was Pembroke, remaining in final position.
The table, published annually by the university, ranks colleges based upon the degree classifications of their outgoing students. As such, Magdalen have helped to associate their impressive buildings with an impressive record for high achievement.
The same can not be said for Merton, who this year appear to have parted from a long-standing tradition of academic dominance. Jessica Ellis, a Mertonian, lamented her college’s plummet through the rankings: “It’s a real shame for us, as being at the top of the Norrington Table was the only positive from our ‘where fun goes to die’ stereotype.” On the future she added, “I think there will be a lot of pressure on next year’s finalists to get us back up to the top.”
Whilst the table is often used to corroborate some colleges’ reputations for academic excellence, Merton’s unexpected vulnerability in the rankings is not the only reason given to treat such conclusions with caution. The university has pointed to the small differences in the scores and low number of graduates per college, deeming the results to be of “limited statistical significance”.
A further criticism offered stems from the incomparability between colleges with different proportions of science students. Since science subjects tend to reward more firsts than humanities, it follows that colleges with relatively more scientists would fare somewhat better than colleges with relatively more arts students.
For the full rankings and methodology, visit the official university page here.