V-c should check his facts

March 5, 2009

I am the Kingston University journalism student who wrote the Surrey Comet article that first highlighted Kingston's misreporting of student non-completions.

It is incorrect for Peter Scott, Kingston's vice-chancellor, to state that the Comet article was "based on an earlier story produced by journalism students at Kingston University" (Letters, 12 February). It was not.

Neither was it based only on the minutes of a meeting of the governing body four (not six) months previously. It was informed by the vice-chancellor's report of 26 November to the governing body (not "freely available on the university's intranet", but obtained under the Freedom of Information Act), and numerous conversations with the university press office and the Higher Education Funding Council for England shortly before publication.

The story was published on the Surrey Comet website (24 January), in the Kingston Guardian (29 January) and the Surrey Comet (30 January). The newspapers did not receive any complaint from the university, yet by 5 February, a similar story in Times Higher Education ("Funding council grant repayments will also hit Kingston and Portsmouth", 5 February) was "badly out of date".

The 26 November report states that an internal audit of 9,000 student records showed the "true" non-completion rate could be as high as 14.5 per cent, more than double the figure reported to Hefce. Problems were not confined to one year.

Martin George, Surbiton.

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