True indicator is a job at the end

December 10, 1999

Bahram Bekhradnia's figures (Soapbox, December 3) show a striking inverse linear relationship between an A-level points score and the likelihood that a university student will subsequently drop out. One conclusion is that a clear contributor to drop-out rates is thus the intellectual difficulties these students have when at university.

The lower drop-out rate we have relative to other countries is then mysteriously interpreted to mean that "our universities and colleges have succeeded in maintaining standards despite the increased pressures they face", and that "there is no comfort in these figures for those who argue that more has meant worse". From that reasoning (and other observations), I would draw exactly the opposite conclusion.

Douglas Kell

Director of research, Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Aberystwyth

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