Bit of Push and pull

August 21, 1998

I AM not surprised by the reactions of some universities to the flunk rates published in The Push Guide to Which University 99 (The THES, "Fury over flunk figures", August 14). They make uncomfortable reading for all concerned about standards in higher education and, with the Department for Education and Employment suggesting extra funding should be contingent on just such performance indicators, universities will be more uncomfortable than most.

But you have confused "flunk" rates (which The Push Guide does include) and "drop-out" rates (which we would include if they could be reliably calculated). Flunk rates are the proportion of students who drop out or fail three-year degree courses. The raw data is provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency and we have followed its advice on methodology.

Only The Push Guide is independent enough to publish statistics for individual universities, Some dispute their figure. Fair enough, but perhaps they can explain how their figure can be lower and yet, according to the HESA and the DFEE, the national average is right.

The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals' charge of "partiality" is pure hypocrisy. The Push Guide has no hidden agenda; we simply provide honest warts-and-all information for applicants.

Johnny Rich

Managing editor The Push Guide

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