The parts league tables do not reach

June 2, 1995

I read with interest the university league tables (THES, May 19) There are many issues surrounding the formulation and presentation of league tables for universities but one in particular concerns me.

Your league tables measure admissions standards on the basis of the average pointage across institutions, apparently quite a sensible measure. However, your readers might not know that Scottish Highers passes are graded A to C, unlike GCE A-level passes which are graded A to E. Most universities agree on how to evaluate on A-level grades, but there is little consensus on Highers.

This university for example scores Highers from six points for a grade A down to two points for a C, and A-levels from ten points for A down to two points for E. Average admissions grades can obviously vary considerably, especially where students come with a mixture of entry qualifications, but how can these statistics be used as a measure of good performance?

Universities which, like Abertay Dundee, work closely with the local community and seek to encourage access from non-standard entrants might well be described as good. Your league tables quote entry grades for degrees yet seek to accommodate institutions offering SCOTVEC (BTEC) qualifications by incorporating "other entry qualifications . . . where possible". How are your readers to interpret statistics based on such imprecise specifications?

This university also works closely with the local education authority to provide support to disadvantaged pupils and the needs of our local community. Relatively low numbers are placed in residential accommodation. Is it really a good university which does not address local needs but imports students who require resources to be devoted to their accommodation?

GRAHAME A. WRIGHT

Assistant principal

University of Abertay Dundee

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