Satisfied customers

September 8, 2006

In reporting this year's National Student Survey you made great play of the fact that results for a number of larger institutions could not be published as not enough of their students had responded ("Absence of elite distorts picture", August 25). Less than 50 per cent of the eligible students at these institutions had responded to the survey so the findings for the institution as a whole could not be shown. You developed this theme in the Leader column "Survey needs the absentees".

The Standing Conference of Principals would certainly agree that the survey needs the absentees - which is why we were surprised that The Times Higher chose to omit so many colleges of higher education and specialist institutions from its own lists.

Many smaller higher education institutions were left out despite the fact that well over 50 per cent of their students took the time and trouble to respond to the survey. Apparently you take the view that these institutions - and their students - don't count. If the survey is to serve as a source of information for potential applicants it is important that applicants should have the opportunity to see what is available across the sector. The Times Higher satisfaction rating you published would look very different if all of the higher education institutions covered by the NSS were included, with many larger universities being displaced in the ratings by smaller higher education institutions rated highly by their students.

Pamela Taylor
Chair, SCOP, and principal, Newman College of Higher Education

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