A formula failure

May 11, 2007

According to the "academic effectiveness" formula ("Post-92s put elite to shame in key areas", May 4), all we need do is only admit applicants with no A levels and do what we like with them for three years.

As long as we give at least one of them an upper second, we will then be infinitely effective. And apparently, the more we charge for such a service, the greater our "academic efficiency". Sheer genius!

If management gurus want a quantitative measure of the teaching usefulness of a university, I suggest dividing its graduates' total extra contribution to gross domestic product over their lifetimes by the cost of their education. Admittedly, such a formula cannot be simplistically applied by extracting meaningless numbers from databases - but it would force the experts to ask more interesting questions about the worth to employers of different universities and different disciplines.

Michael Merrifield
Nottingham University

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