Rankings don't tell whole truth 1

November 12, 2004

Your top 200 ranking (World University Rankings, November 5) needs some refinement to allow for performance relative to funding. Until June 2002, I was an associate professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, a university that did not make it into the top 200. I am now at Queensland University, which you have ranked 49th.

While the quantity and quality of my work has in some respects improved because of the much better resources available in Australia, I cannot say that the difference is as great as the relative ranking (or non-ranking) suggests.

Graduate attributes for Wits graduates are comparable to those in the best first-world universities. I offer you two suggestions: include scores that rate universities more specifically for graduate attributes, or compile a separate ranking weighted for access to funding.

The first would be difficult, but a more reasonable output measure than staff-to-student ratio. The second would be useful for students weighing up cost versus performance. South Africa is one of the best destinations for students on a limited budget, which is clearly not a factor in your ranking.

Philip Machanick
Queensland University

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