Universities criticise Times League Table
Published: 21 May 2001
The Principals of the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh have written to The Times in protest at the way Veterinary Science has been dealt with in the recently published league tables.
The Principals of the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh have written to The Times in protest at the way Veterinary Science has been dealt with in the rcently published league tables. The text is as follows. (As at 21 May The Times has not published the letter)
From the Principals of the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow (Professor Sir Stewart Sutherland and Professor Sir Graeme Davies)
If the underlying aim of the Times university league tables is to provide additional useful information and guidance for potential applicants and their advisers, in as objective a manner as possible, it is clearly falling down in certain areas.
Your 'Z-transformation statistical technique' (Times 18 May) may sound impressive, but is clearly producing some nonsenses, most notably in Veterinary Medicine where six institutions, separated in virtually all the criteria quoted by very narrow margins, are then ranked on a scale from 100.0 (1st) to 30.2 (6th).
Anyone with real knowledge of the Veterinary education scene in Britain will tell you that while there are some variations between the six institutions - whether on the criteria quoted or on others that could be invoked - they are fairly closely grouped, with shared high standards.
To produce a table which suggests, through the methodology and marking scale you appear to use, that one of these veterinary schools is twice or three times as good as others on the list is not only unhelpful, it is downright misleading and flies in the face of the truth, however defined. That, we believe, would be the view of all institutions listed.
However this has happened, it clearly needs re-assessment and correction, which we trust you will now promptly address and publicise.
It would be more than a pity if what has come to be regarded as a fairly careful annual exercise by The Times came into disrepute. On this sort of approach, this is highly likely.
Stewart R Sutherland
Media Relations Office (email@example.com)
First published: 21 May 2001