Facts better than forecasts

May 24, 2012

I write regarding your news article "Elite institutions predicted to fall short on research student qualifications" (17 May), which draws on data from the Higher Education Funding Council for England report Rates of Qualification from Postgraduate Research Degrees.

The article mentions that Imperial College London is "among the universities predicted to see a below-par qualification rate among its current research students". Imperial routinely collates submission and award rates. To date, 89.7 per cent of the cohort that started in 2005-06 and 87.9 per cent of those starting in 2006-07 have been awarded their degrees. It is too early for collation of the final data on students who commenced their studies in 2007-08, but on the basis of our regular monitoring of student progress, they will be within the same range.

While forecast figures like those quoted in the article can make for good headlines, they are a very poor substitute for real data.

Julia Buckingham, Pro rector (education and academic affairs), Imperial College London

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