Letter: More table talk (1)

June 1, 2001

It was interesting to read Ian McNay's query (Letters, THES , May 25) about "League Tables 2001" ( THES , May 18) in relation to "modern universities".

In their article, Andrew Hindmarsh and Bernard Kingston had concluded that the league-table approach "has considerable robustness".

I discovered this also when, just for interest, I decided to test the 1999 and 2000 Times Good University Guide placings against the rankings in those same years of the Quality Assurance Agency. I was surprised when the Spearman test of rank correlation gave figures of 0.835 for 1999 and 0.879 for 2000. This, to my mind, demonstrated a very clear similarity between the two results.

Many do not accept that league tables can be useful. Like most statistics, they should be used as an aid to analysis and not as an end in themselves - but surely they have a substantial place in the debate.

Jeff McLachlan
Former dean
Napier University Business School

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