Merton retains Norrington top spot

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Merton College remains top of the 2007 Norrington Table for the second year in a row, but the table continues to be criticised for its unfair scoring system.

The Norrington score, which determines the colleges’ rank order, is based on the finals performance of students at each college.

Rising colleges include Hertford at 9 (up from 17 in 2006), Pembroke at 10 (from 23), St Anne’s at 13 (from 22), Keble at 18 (from 26), and St Peter’s at 20 (from 27). Colleges that fell include Corpus Christi at 23 (down from 11) and Wadham at 17 (from 7).

Each college gains 5 points for a first class degree, 3 for a 2:1, 2 for a 2:2 and 1 for a third, with the total expressed as a percentage of the maximum score possible.

The table does not account for differences between subjects in the proportion of students gaining first class degrees, with more going to science than arts students. In Cambridge the equivalent to the Norrington, the Tompkins Table, is weighted to account for subject variations.

Professor David Clary, President of Magdalen College, suggested that colleges’ positions varied greatly from year to year. "Norrington scores of different colleges are very close and a change in the degree results of just a few undergraduates can provide a major difference in the position of a college in the table," he said.

The table does not take graduate results into account, which disadvantages colleges that focus on graduates. "It is noticeable that several colleges placed lower down the Norrington Table put emphasis on graduate study and the table only refers to undergraduate performance," Clary said.

OUSU Vice-President for Access and Academic Affairs, James Lamming said the Norrington had variable effects on colleges,"The Norrington Table could potentially have benefits if it encourages those colleges lower in the table to increase academic support; but there are potential negative effects if Colleges become only concerned with academic achievement, and exclude students from opportunities for personal development and diverse experience."

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