tables prove size matters
University's contribution to higher education is not fairly
reflected in the recent spate of newspaper league tables,
Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Alan Wilson wrote in the
Financial Times (May 11).
way in which these tables are compiled using a
methodology which enables organisations of widely different
size to be compared discriminates against larger
organisations with a broad range of academic activity,
common practice to attempt to remove size effects, on
the grounds that this makes the resulting comparisons
reasonable and does not unfairly advantage large institutions,"
Sir Alan wrote.
enough. If well done, this does measure something. However
there is an alternative perspective that weights
the quality ratings by size and so in a real sense measures
the quantity of quality delivered."
an 'alternative' perspective, which takes into account
not only the quality but the volume of university research,
teaching and widening participation activities, produces
a league table headed by Oxford, Leeds, Manchester, Manchester
Metropolitan and Cambridge.
results are interesting not least because they mix different
kinds of universities in a way that I haven’t seen
in other tables," Sir Alan said. "In particular,
new universities vie with Russell Group universities in
the composite league table, showing the different mixes
of contributions from different kinds of universities
in our diverse system."
the FT article and alternative league tables drawn up
by the University's academic support unit at www.leeds.ac.uk/media/quality.htm