Fudging a digit or two

I’m dis­ap­poin­ted to read this BBC News story about some mem­bers of the staff at Kingston University (London) telling stu­dents to pos­it­ively skew their answers in the National Student Survey. (Disclaimer: I’m an Associate Lecturer at the Open University.)

If Kingston comes down the bot­tom, the bot­tom line is that nobody is going to want to employ you,” staff warned.

It comes back to the fin­an­cial con­sequences of the sur­vey, which cre­ates a pres­sure — usu­ally with­in the man­age­ment — to emphas­ise the neces­sity of com­ing high on the league table.

This is sur­pris­ing in the sense that I genu­inely don’t think the prob­lem is wide­spread (though see the com­ments stu­dents have added to the art­icle), but it’s just anoth­er demon­stra­tion that some ele­ments of aca­demia are not improved with the applic­a­tion of mar­ket forces. RAE, any­one?

If you’re a stu­dent, do what comes nat­ur­ally — ignore your lec­tur­ers and write what you bloody well want 🙂

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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