University league tables: serious stuff

Counting what is measured or measuring what counts? League tables and their impact on higher education institutions in England

A report on League tables commissioned by Hefce has recently been published. This is a serious piece of work and a helpful overview of five league tables, national and international, together with some details on the impact of each of the indicators used.

A helpful piece of reading for anyone with an interest in University league tables it explains

– flaky stats – some of the measures used are pretty poor proxies for quality

– current league tables don’t give anything like a full picture of the sector

– institutions all seem to think that other universities are cleverly manipulating results in ways that they are not

– institutions really do take the league tables seriously and feel they have a serious impact on students and staff.

One of the conclusions though is that the compilers’ methodologies for the tables should be more transparent. Whilst this would be nice I do really think it is quite unlikely – then we’d all be able to do it, and to point out even more errors than we do now.

Well worth reading though.

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