If you are applying to a British university and you are concerned not with personal transformation, changing your life or social justice activism but with simple things like enjoying your course and finishing it and getting a job what would you look for? Performance in global rankings? Staff salaries? Spending? Staff student ratios?
Starting with student satisfaction, here are a few basic correlations between scores for overall student satisfaction on the Guardian UK rankings and a number of variables from the Guardian rankings, the Times Higher Education TEF simulation (THE), the Hefce survey of educational qualifications, and theTHE survey of vice-chancellor's pay.
Average Entry Tariff (Guardian) .479**
Staff student ratio (Guardian) .451**
Research Excellence Framework score (via THE) .379**
Spending per student (Guardian) .220 *
Vice chancellor salary (via THE) .167
Average salary (via THE) .031
Total staff (via THE) .099
Total students (via THE) .065
Teaching qualifications (Hefce) -161 (English universities only)
If there is one single thing that best predicts how satisfied you will be it is average entry tariff (A level grades). The number of staff compared to students, REF score, and spending per student also correlate significantly with student satisfaction.
None of the following are of any use in predicting student satisfaction: vice chancellor salary, average staff salary, total staff, total students or percentage of faculty with teaching qualifications.