Two out of three Canterbury universities have gone down in the annual higher education rankings.
Kent has dropped from 23rd last year to 31st this year while the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) has dipped from 53 to 58.
Canterbury Christ Church University, meanwhile, has risen from 114th to 111th in the table which comprises 129 higher education institutions.
The table is compiled by the Times whose researchers look at aspects of university life including teaching and research quality, graduate prospects, degree completion rates and the percentage of students achieving firsts or 2:1s.
Kent records a 90% completion rate and nearly 80% of students receive a first or a 2:1. It is 15th in the country for graduate prospects, but 88th for teaching quality.
The Good Universities Guide points out that Kent did well when judged by the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) panel.
It said: “The panel was enthusiastic about Kent’s ‘outstanding’ Student Success Project, which identifies trends in results and completion rates, and acts to help those likely to fall behind.
“There was also praise for the university’s systematic approach to embedding employability in the curriculum and providing employment placements for large numbers of students.”
Christ Church is 111th overall and shares the same position for its student experience and graduate prospects. It is 72nd for teaching quality.
The guide says: “There will be a new arts facility on the Canterbury campus in September 2018 to promote employment in the creative and digital industries.
“Shared by the schools of media, art and design, and music and performing arts, the building will house specialist teaching facilities, including space for performance and music, design studios and the latest technology.
“The university will hope that the new developments can arrest a steady decline in applications over the past two years. Although the numbers enrolling were up slightly in 2016, there had been a 12% drop in applications since 2014.
“Christ Church had also dropped into the bottom 20 in our league table, mainly as a result of a decline in student satisfaction.”
The University for the Creative Arts Canterbury campus sits next to Canterbury College in New Dover Road.
It also has sites at Farnham, Rochester and Epsom. It ranks 56th for teaching and 89th for student experience.
The guide says: “Architecture is the main theme at Canterbury, a modern site close to the city centre, but there are also degrees in fine art, interior design, graphic design, and illustration and animation too.
“A 3D fabrication lab and games design suite are new additions.
“The Canterbury School of Architecture is the only such school to remain within a specialist art and design institution, encouraging collaboration between student architects, designers and fine artists.
“Many staff are practitioners as well as academics, and the founding colleges, which date back to Victorian times, have produced famous graduates such as the artist Tracey Emin and the fashion designers Karen Millen and Zandra Rhodes, who is also the university’s chancellor.”
Cambridge is the top ranked university according to the guide with Oxford second and St Andrew’s third.
The University of Suffolk in Ipswich occupies bottom place.
Earlier this month universities minister Sam Gyimah visited Canterbury to speak at Christ Church. He insisted that universities raise people’s life chances and improve employability.
But not everyone agrees. Writer Emily Dinsmore argues that ranking systems which measure such things as employability and student experience undermine the purpose of university.
She said: “Though such ratings have been around for some time, they are deeply flawed.
“They often create pressures on university staff that detract from the job of teaching.
“And marketising the university experience in this way, as if it were a consumer product, is also bad for students.
“In particular, it distracts potential students from what they should be thinking about: the subject they want to study and the intellectual journey they want to pursue.
“In all the discussions about universities’ financial or social worth, nobody seems to want to tackle the question of what education is worth in itself, in the broader sense of expanding minds – something that can’t always be straightforwardly measured.”
Canterbury technically has four universities with the fourth being the Girne American University in St George’s Place. It, however, does not appear in the Good Universities Guide.