Laurie Taylor Column

August 24, 2007


From: Jamie Targett, Director of Corporate Affairs
To: All academic staff

In last week’s Times Higher , a number of respected academics called for universities not to collaborate with league tables because of their tendency to exclude key measures of excellence.

Here at Poppleton, we strongly support this move. For although we were obviously gratified by our appearance at No 2 in the recently compiled Poppleton Evening News league table, our relatively lower positioning in the tables compiled by other newspapers is, we believe, the result of just such bias. Not one of these tables, for example, includes any of the following distinctive Poppleton features:

Size of Human Resources Department
Statistics show that Poppleton has more people involved in managing other people than any other university of comparable size in this country.

Stature of vice-chancellor

Leadership is a key factor in the promotion of excellence within universities, but not one of the tables allows for the differential stature of individual leaders. If proper weighting were given to our current vice-chancellor, our position in any table would be significantly enhanced.

General student satisfaction

Although student satisfaction is taken into account in current tables, this is often based on inadequate “yes” and “no” criteria. When we recently asked our students a rather more comprehensive question — “Would you say that on the whole this place really isn’t at all bad, especially when you take into consideration the recent illness of a number of key lecturers and the fact that you probably wouldn’t have been able to get into anywhere else with your A-level grades, wouldn’t you agree that it’s not been a complete and utter disaster?” — we received an approval rating of over 60 per cent. 

Doctor Piercemüller
Despite constant requests to the compilers of tables, we have ­never received a special allow­ance for Doctor Piercemüller. 

Alphabetical discrimination
It is significant that not one university with a name beginning with “P” has ever appeared in the top 20 of the main league tables.

I hope this clarifies our refusal to play any more.

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