The University of the South of England (USE) has jumped up over thirty places in the latest Guardian university league tables. It is now amongst the top fifty universities in the country, according to the criteria built into the tables. There were improvements in the scores for all eight indicators used in the tables, including expenditure per student and graduate career prospects. The Vice Chancellor, Professor Victor Crispin, expressed his delight at the latest tables, saying that the results were a clear indication of the importance we attached to students' experience and achievement.
Older heads in the department, such as Gus and Bob, told me that although they did not wish to take anything away from the news, which of course would help enormously in maintaining our recruitment of domestic and international students, they were a bit skeptical about the outcome. Part of it was driven by what is called the value added score, which relates to students achieving a better class of degree than might have been expected given their entry qualifications. In recent years the university has awarded a much greater proportion of First and Upper Second Class degrees than before, partly due to the greater weight given to coursework in some areas. Gus and Bob said they doubted whether the current crop of students really did have that much better experiences and outcomes than those a decade earlier.
But I guess now is not the time to knock a good news story for USE. Onwards and upwards!