Trinity College topples Emmanuel College to reclaim top spot in Cambridge University Tompkins Table

Michael Yoganayagam 18 July 2011

Trinity College has claimed first place in the Tompkins Table 2011, a position it previously held in 2009 after a decade away from the top spot. Emmanuel College, which topped last year’s ranking, slipped to second place, though the college still maintains the impressive record of nine top-two finishes in the last ten years.

This year saw a record 37.2 per cent of Trinity undergraduates being awarded Firsts – a figure that actuary and Cambridge alumnus Peter Tompkins, who compiles the table every year for The Independent, believes to be the highest any college had achieved in the 30 year history of the table. The first Tompkins Table was produced in 1981 while Tompkins was still an undergraduates maths student at Trinity. The proportion of Trinitarians obtaining firsts was well ahead of closest rivals Emma, where ‘only’ 31.8% of candidates managed such a feat.

Commenting on the results, Professor Grae Worster, Senior Tutor at Trinity, told The Independent: “Trinity’s traditional strengths in science and mathematics are widely recognised but this outcome owes as much to excellent results in the arts and humanities”.

Colleges are ranked in the table according to a point score, constructed by allocating a 100% score for candidates ranked with a First, 60% for those with a 2:1, 40% for a 2:2 and 20% for a Third.

Trinity Hall claimed 3rd place in the table to record its best performance in 24 years, while Clare College continued its breakneck rise from the mid-table obscurity of two years ago to 4th place this year, having risen from 18th to 8th from 2009 to 2010. This year’s two biggest movers did so in opposite directions, as Jesus College rose from 16th place in 2010 to 8th place in 2011, while Peterhouse, the oldest of all Cambridge’s colleges, plummeted from 7th to 18th.

Queens’ College recorded a marginal improvement this year, going from 17th in last year’s ranking to 14th this year. This comes after the college proposed an “Academic Alignment Week” to replace the traditional Freshers’ Week for next year’s incoming first years in what seemed to be an attempt to reverse its fall in the inter-college rankings – last year saw Queens’ slide 5 places from 12th to 17th. The proposal was however watered down after student outrage saw over 150 students sign a petition against the proposed week.

The four mature colleges – Wolfson, Hughes Hall, St Edmunds and Lucy Cavendish – are joined by Homerton to make up the bottom five. Since the mature colleges have significantly more graduate students than undergraduates, one might argue that the Tompkins Table, which only considers undergraduate performance, does not accurately represent the academic stature of these colleges Hughes Hall, St Edmunds and Lucy Cavendish were identically placed in last year’s table.

College reactions to follow.

Michael Yoganayagam