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Exercise buck

Letters

Congratulations to Swansea on being top of the list of civil engineering university departments. While not wishing to detract from its achievement could I note that the major factor in the department's success was associated with an excellent Teaching Quality Assessment (TQA) score.

The heavy weighting given to the TQA scores (75% of the total) is appropriate in the context of the Guardian newspaper's remit in informing new students as to the best course.

Unfortunately the data used gives rise to significant regional anomalies.

The last TQA exercise in Scotland took place in 1993 and then was based on a four point scale of excellent, highly satisfactory, satisfactory and unsatisfactory. All but one civil engineering department in Scotland received a highly satisfactory grade and no department received an excellent grade at that time.

The Guardian lumped all satisfactory and highly satisfactory grades as equivalent to 20 points when comparing with the English, Welsh and Northern Ireland universities. Consequently, student readers of the Guardian and readers of NCE are being informed on the basis of eight year old information that is in itself arbitrarily translated.

Howard Wright H.D.Wright@strath. ac. uk

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