University law department league tables have been dramatically reshuffled by a nationwide £1bn funding exercise to reward research.
Figures from the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) reveal that eight university law departments have been awarded a five-star rating, a grade which indicates that more than half of the research activity submitted is of an internationally excellent standard.
While the law departments at Oxford and Cambridge are the only ones to have received a five-star grade in both the 1996 and 2001 RAE, this year's top bracket has swelled to include the London School of Economics and Political Science, University College London and the universities of Durham, Southampton and Keele.
The total number of departments awarded a five-star rating also increased from 11 in 1996 to 30 in 2001, a jump that could herald significant funding benefits for the institutions involved.
“It's not just the elite departments that produce the best students and research”
Prof Didi Herman, Keele University
Professor Didi Herman, head of law at Keele, has overseen the university's rise from a four-star to a five-star rating since 1996. She said she hoped the results would have a positive impact on the conduct of the legal market at large.
“Anecdotal evidence does suggest that our students suffer some discrimination when applying to the larger law firms,” she said. “I do hope this will help them see that it's not just the elite departments that produce the best students and research.”
The Southampton Institute was the only department that failed to improve on its 1996 grade, slipping from a 3b to a 3a, while 10 law faculties that took part in 1996 dropped out of the exercise altogether, including Manchester Metropolitan University and Guildhall and Coventry universities.
Yet funding chiefs have admitted that a sharp rise in research standards across all subjects has created a £200m gap.
Sir Howard Newby, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said that the current funding formula, which awards a five-star rating four times as much money as a 3b, was unaffordable.
He added that his committee will consider all the available options and will lobby the Government “very very hard” for the resources to meet the shortfall.
|Law faculty league table|
|Institution||1996 rating||2001 rating|
|University of Birmingham||4||5|
|University of Bristol||4||5|
|University of Cambridge||5*||5*|
|University of Central Lancashire||3a||4|
|De Montfort University||3b||4|
|University of Durham||4||5*|
|University of East Anglia||3a||5|
|University of East London||2||3a|
|University of Essex||5||5|
|University of Exeter||3a||5|
|University of Greenwich/a||3b|
|University of Hull||3a||5|
|University of Kent at Canterbury||4||5|
|Kings College London||5||5|
|University of Leeds||4||5|
|Leeds Metropolitan University /a||3a|
|University of Leicester||4||5|
|University of Liverpool||3a||4|
|Institute of Advanced Legal Studies||4||4|
|London School of Economics and Political Science||5*||5*|
|University of Manchester||5||5|
|University of Newcastle||3a||5|
|University of Nottingham||5||5|
|Nottingham Trent University||3b||4|
|School of Oriental and African Studies||3a||5|
|University of Oxford||5*||5*|
|Oxford Brookes University /a||4|
|Queen Mary, University of London||4||5*|
|University of Reading||3a||5|
|University of Sheffield||5||5|
|Sheffield Hallam University||3a||3a|
|University of Southampton||5||5*|
|University of Sussex||3a||4|
|Thames Valley University||1||2|
|University College London||5||5*|
|University of Warwick||4||5|
|University of West of England, Bristol||3b||4|
|University of Westminster||2||5|
|University of Wolverhampton||1||3a|
|University of Aberdeen||5||5|
|University of Dundee||4||5|
|University of Edinburgh||4||5|
|University of Glasgow||4||5|
|Glasgow Caledonian University /a||3b|
|Napier University /a||3a|
|Robert Gordon University /a||3a|
|University of Strathclyde||4||5|
|University of Wales, Swansea||3b||3a|
|University of Wales, Aberystwyth||3a||4|
|The Queen's University of Belfast||3a||5|
|University of Ulster||3b||5|
|Source: Higher Education Funding Council for England|