Wrongs of rating

February 9, 2007

I read that the www.williseemytutor.com website is causing something of a stir in higher education ("Alarm at rating website", January 26).

If it actually measured the real contact between qualified staff and teachers then the website would be excellent.

But staff-student ratios do not tell the whole story. For example, Sheffield Hallam University is rated "poor" as "it's possible you will never see your lecturer", while Sheffield University is rated "good" as "at this university you are going to be taught and guided through your course".

Both of these are, of course, ridiculous sweeping statements.

At Sheffield you are more likely to be taught, especially as a first-year undergraduate, by an untrained postgraduate student.

At Sheffield Hallam you are likely to be taught by your lecturer (rarely, if at all, by a postgraduate student) and a lecturer who, in many cases, will have pedagogic training in the form of a Postgraduate Certificate of Education or another diploma.

Lee Harvey
Director of the Centre for Research and Evaluation
Sheffield Hallam University

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