Some thoughts on improving league table outcomes

 

League tables are not something that are done to us. They are just a reflection of our performance, and I think we would all like to see our performance improve to the point in those tables where we all think we should be.

Staffordshire has performed better in student satisfaction this year, but the areas in which we could improve are: value added; career prospects, and entry tariff.

I’ll be meeting with lots of people of the next few weeks to start looking at what this means for us, and what we can change. The thoughts below are just a starting point – I hope everyone will engage in this important debate, starting with Heads of School and Associate Deans in the monthly meeting this week.     

Value added

In the Guardian League Table, this is a measure of good degree outcomes, moderated by  entry qualifications, rather than a simple measure of distance of travel between entry and exit. Since some of the most highly selective universities, with the highest entry tariffs, score most highly in value added, then as a University, we need to be looking at how many of our students are gaining good degrees. We already know that despite this figure rising in 2011-12, we are still a university that awards relatively few 1sts and 2(i)s.

There are a number of approaches we could use to tackle this, and to have any effect we will need to consider all of them

  • Reviewing award regulations
  • Reviewing individual module performances
  • Reviewing student support systems
  • Reviewing learning and teaching strategies, particularly around assessment and feedback
  • Making sure all student groups (by gender, age, ethnicity etc) are able to perform equally well.

Career prospects

Firstly we need to ensure that the data we return is as good as possible – although this is the same for all of our data returns that are used in league table compilation.

Secondly, increasing the number of good degrees that we award should have positive benefit- students with a 2(i) or above are more likely to gain graduate employment, or land interviews with the bigger employers.

Thirdly, our Staffordshire Graduate programme will help to make our graduates more employable, but this will only start to pay dividends for the cohort graduating in 2015.

Finally, we could look to creating graduate internships within the university- other institutions have already done this. The benefit to the graduate is clear- graduate level work experience – and the benefit to us would be a pool of motivated employees who could be engaged in short term project work in both academic and service departments of the organisation.

Entry tariff

On one level this should be a no-brainer- students with better A levels perform better in degrees. However, we should not lose sight of two things:

  • Our commitment  to widening participation in a city with relatively low educational achievement
  • The numbers of students that we have with BTEC and other qualifications

Raising entry tariff sends a marketing message about the perceived value of an award, and may make it more likely for us to become first choice for applicants. However, in terms of improving attainment, we should also be developing a better understanding of our students’ previous background, which will involve a bit of data mining of our information system, and then ensuring our TLA approaches are suitable.

We will be working this year to gain a better understanding of how BTEC students achieve at university, how EdExcel awards could be designed to prepare students better for higher education, and how we could adjust to teaching these entrants

 

There’s a lot of work to do here, but we have turned a corner, our league table position is slightly better this year, and we are developing a better understanding  of how  to improve our position. To reiterate my first point though – this is not about responding to a league table result, or trying to game the system. It’s a recognition that the table is just a reflection of where we are right now. I think we all believe that we can be better than we seem to appear , and so we can start working towards that goal.

1 thought on “Some thoughts on improving league table outcomes

  1. Hi – interestingly graduate internships may not be that far away at Staffs – in fact they are already here and being advertised on the Unitemps website! I was slightly surprised i must say to see at least 8 internships advertised on the website when i logged in at the weekend to submit the hourages for the student team who have been working with me on the Schools Visits for the degree show!.

    I am not quite sure what the student who applies to do them will be doing – but evidently we are offering one in each of the schools and some of the services …

    Below is the advert for my faculty … i just now need to find out what they are supposed to be doing with us!! …

    Graduates & Final year students: Would you like 12 weeks’ paid work in Arts, Media or Design?

    Staffordshire University is running a Graduate Paid Internship scheme between June 2013 until January 2014. If you would like to register your interest for this scheme, so that we can contact you if we feel there is a relevant internship role for you now or in the future, please apply to the scheme by uploading your CV through Unitemps specifying your dates of availability with your application.

    This scheme gives you the opportunity to use your knowledge and expertise to help support or develop an area of work as follows:
    •Graduate level paid work through an internship for up to 12 weeks
    •Many internships lead to permanent offers of work
    •Enhances CV by giving value added skills and related work experience
    •Gives you a taste of a company and related job role in the workplace

    Eligibility:

    •Must have completed a degree or post-graduate degree course
    To Apply

    Please make sure your CV is uploaded to the Unitemps website with your contact details.

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