League lowdown 1

May 23, 2003

The true graduate jobs picture is hidden, not only in the First Destination Survey ("Figures hid true graduate jobs picture", THES , May 9) but in your league tables. Many of those labelled as taking graduate-track employment are not in paid employment. They have taken further studies to qualify them for the job market. PhD students fall into this category.

Such students are not unemployed, but I do not see them as employed, which is what you imply by the wording in your headings.

Your report of Abigail McKnight's work makes a valid distinction between two types of employment, yet your statistics equate employment with non-employment (not unemployment) and conflate two different performance indicators. That makes the statistics less useful than they might be in showing the difference in performance against mission of the institutions.

You should urge the compilers to separate these two groups. You will find that the modern universities do even better than now in ranking highly under the graduate employment criterion.

It would be better if the heading were "positive destinations", though I would still want to know the split between graduate jobs and further study.

The two represent different outcomes for students and institutions relating to different aims and balance of institutional objectives. A medieval historian going on to PhD work would have a different value for education secretary Charles Clarke than a media studies student becoming a journalist (I make no judgement on ranking utility value; I leave that to him).

Ian McNay
University of Greenwich

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