Tune in to excellence 1

September 3, 2009

I am distressed at the prospect of the First Secretary and a host of civil servants spending their valuable time poring over "spidergrams" to judge universities' performance ("Pressure grows to replace league tables", August).

Unfortunately, the compilers of the annual university league tournaments have invented a variety of scoring systems that have no consistency, that no informed person in higher education really believes and that the contestants themselves either accept or denounce according to how they fare each year.

May I suggest a variation on this annual parlour game? Why not rank university "quality" according to first-round scores in BBC Two's University Challenge? This elegant and populist solution has a consistent format, umpire and rules; and it is transparent and accessible to the telly-viewing, tax-paying, entertainment-seeking, score-hungry public.

This is as good as anything else dreamt up so far. All we need to do is ensure that each university fields a team every year, and we can all sit back and enjoy the thrill of shouting the answers from our armchairs.

G. F. Baxter, Cardiff.

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