League lowdown 2

May 23, 2003

We were surprised that Westminster's media and communications courses were rated below institutions that had lower scores in teaching and research assessments in your ranking for the subjects. The explanation must lie with three misleading measures that you used to compile the tables.

It is difficult to see the value of counting A-level scores of entrants. We aim to provide high-quality education for talented students, many of whom come from educationally deprived areas. We have no intention of finding ways to ensure that our intake is made up of the well-qualified children of privileged families to look better in league tables. Also, about 50 per cent of our undergraduates come from outside the UK and have qualifications other than A levels. Such a measure is indefensible in a rapidly globalising education market.

The proportion of staff entered into the research assessment exercise is another misleading measure that suggests we have a few isolated researchers. We have one of the largest groups of researchers of any university in this field and entered more staff than many of the other departments rated 5 or 5* in unit 65.

The measure of employment is much more defensible, but there are problems with the way in which it has been applied to media and communications, which has a strong practical dimension. It is commonplace to begin a career in broadcast production as a runner, which is apparently not of graduate level. Employment figures are also notoriously bad at measuring the fate of overseas students.

Sally Feldman
University of Westminster

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