Knight of the false table

February 23, 1996

Peter Knight's table of funding per part-time student (THES, February 16) is based on false comparisons. He correctly points out that the volume measure for part-time students treats a two-hour-per-week student and one studying 16 hours per week as one and the same. But he does not make it clear that his table therefore in no way reflects the true level of funding per student hour or FTE. This accounts for the range of financial support for part-time students.

Moreover, the widening of the range by nearly 30 per cent in 1994/95 over 1993/94 was caused by the return for the first time by some "old" universities, but not all, of their continuing education students, the vast majority of whom study for two hours per week. This at least partly explains Exeter's position at the bottom of the part-time league table (and no doubt other "old" universities including Liverpool, Sheffield, Southampton, Lancaster, Bristol and Bath). It also illustrates the unreliability of such tables, and perhaps gives an indication of the relatively low level of funding for continuing education generally.

Roger Fieldhouse

Director of continuing education

University of Exeter

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