Suspect survey

December 17, 2004

You are to be commended for endeavouring to use international peer review as a measure of world ranking at "faculty" level ("Best of the bright sparks", December 10). But is a sample of 1,300 people on five continents and covering more than 50 disciplines likely to yield reliable information?

UK universities perform exceptionally well in international comparisons.

Therefore, it comes as a great surprise that a number of leading UK research-led universities in science and engineering do not feature in your lists. I am naturally concerned that Southampton University does not appear, given its international research excellence.

Although the methodology for identifying centres of science-based excellence may itself be sound, these considerations must raise serious doubts about the validity of its application in this survey. Unfortunately, few details of the methods you employed were published, which further undermines the credibility of your conclusions.

Bill Wakeham
Vice-chancellor
Southampton University

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