Laurie Taylor Column

November 12, 2004

From: The Office of the Vice-Chancellor

Subject: World Rankings

Following the recent publication by The Times Higher of the so-called World University Rankings, my office has received a number of requests from staff for information on the "world" standing of the University of Poppleton.

I am now pleased to confirm that Poppleton is currently ranked as the 25,175th best university in the world. This clearly places us somewhat behind more universally oriented UK institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Economics. But it also means we are evidently superior to the Universities of Huascaran and Machanga (25,176th and 25,177th respectively), and only marginally below the Universities of Western Pamparato and Muang Lamphun (25,174th and 25,173rd respectively).

On the face of it, this might still seem a disappointing result. But I believe that these figures need to be set in their proper context.

Statistics show that there are currently more than 35,000 universities in the world. By this reckoning, we are currently superior to nearly 10,000 other institutions of higher education. No mean achievement.

It should also be borne in mind that universalism has never been one of this university's key strategic objectives. Although we welcome any sort of overseas student with open arms and lowered admissions criteria, we have always sought to stress our role as a community university.

Most of our students hail from the Poppleton area, and many of our senior staff are still reluctant to travel as far as London. This means that Poppleton can, with some confidence, claim its own global place. We are, I believe, one of the world's leading provincial universities.

May I finally caution all academic staff against accepting the validity or reliability of any university league tables in which their own institution is not favourably represented. No amount of quantification can possibly capture what our Head of Corporate Development, Mr Jamie Targett, frequently refers to as the "essential cultural ambience" of this university.

The Vice-Chancellor (Ranked second highest in league of v-cs' pay) (signed in his absence by Mrs Dilworth).

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