As the son of an academic, when it came to choosing my university, I was always strongly advised to look to the Russell Group. Since the annual rankings are so variable and generally unreliable, a place in the elite group of UK institutions is perhaps the best sign a prospective student can go on when making that monumental decision. So to suddenly find Queen Mary had been voted by readers of TheTab as the worst Russell Group University was certainly alarming… at first. Though I will not make any desperate sounding attempt to proclaim our university as the greatest, nor to disclaim any other in our place as the worst, I will attempt here to give a breakdown of the article published in The Tab and the subsequent vote. The result will hopefully set troubled minds at ease that we are by no means the worst…
It’s Only a Joke! The good people at The Tab practically dare their readers to take offence at the beginning of the article, whilst the editorial team admitted to their gleefully revelling (‘circle jerking’ was their phrase of choice) in the storm of hurt pride that followed at the end. As this was a vote taken by students around the country, who couldn’t possibly know enough about whichever institution they were voting for (or rather, against), the vote was never going to produce anything close to an accurate or reliable conclusion. The article was intended as provocative fun and it certainly achieved its aim.
Queen Mary: A University on the Up. ‘We honestly thought this was a sixth form college’ exclaim the writers of the article during their brief but clearly effective put down of Queen Mary. It appears fair to assume many of their readers thought along similar lines. Queen Mary only made the Russell Group in 2012 whilst the QM has enjoyed somewhat of a meteoric rise over the past decade, no doubt buoyed by its location in the East End and the regeneration project there. A lack of awareness of our promotion into the Russell Group may well have played a major part in how the vote panned out. As a history student, looking at the list of incredible staff (which is to be added to this year) I predict an increase in respectability and reputation. A university on the up is no bad thing.
Did You Vote? I know I certainly didn’t. I only became aware of the article and the vote upon discovering we’d been named the worst of the pack. Each of the Russell Group Universities except for QM has their own Tab website, suggesting The Tab enjoys a smaller readership from our students than it does from our rivals in the vote. Meanwhile not a single QM student commented on the article which is strange considering how people from the runner ups Liverpool and York rushed to the defence of their university. There may well be a whole lot of unused votes from Mile End that could have swung the election in a very different direction.
It’s a London Thing. Let’s face it, our friends at Kings, UCL, and Imperial often view us as the runt in the University of London litter. Perhaps fearful of our sudden ascendancy into the Russell Group, neighbourly rivalry could have played a considerable part in deciding the eventual outcome of the vote. Though we have no way of knowing the exact break down, is it entirely unfair to hypothesise this way?