Letter: Invert that snobbery 1

November 2, 2001

In my experience, students cannot distinguish between "old" and "new" universities ("Students swayed by the old school", THES , October 26). Indeed, I have had to provide my research staff, some of whom graduated in the early 1990s, with lists of old and new universities and colleges of higher education to enable them to make comparative statistical analyses.

Students discriminate between institutions in overall reputation and academic standing identified by word of mouth and through league tables, rather than by date of incorporation. In the operational definitions for the thesis I researched 30 years ago is a list of 23 new universities that includes such highly respected establishments as Warwick, York, Umist, Bath, Bradford and Loughborough. Some of these were previously colleges of advanced technology, famed at the time for their vocational orientation, just as many of our current new universities are. But, equally, some of these 23 now hover around the middle and lower half of the league tables. As the added value of many post-1992 universities begins to outshine some of their predecessors, so the blue-chip employers need to open up their recruitment to graduates from these universities.

Karen Powell-Williams
Westminster Business School
University of Westminster

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