University of Newcastle says survey response rate 'not reliable'

THE University of Newcastle denied it was trying to dodge negative publicity by refusing to supply data that would result in a low rating in the Good Universities Guide.

The 2010 guide, to be released today, omits ratings for the university in areas of graduate satisfaction, teaching quality and generic skills.

In the past two years the university has scored one star out of five all but once in the three areas.

Hobsons Australia general manager Davorin Vrdoljak said the university was one of three universities in Australia to refuse permission to publish the data because the response rate to its annual graduate survey was too low for the data to be considered reliable.

"We were quite disappointed," Mr Vrdoljak said.

The university's ratings in the guide remained largely unchanged compared with the 2009 book.

Ratings for staff-to-student ratios dropped from three stars to one star, overall student demand was down one star and staff qualifications were down one star.

The Central Coast gained an extra star for "toughness to get in" and indigenous participation rated five stars.

The university said the response rate for its graduate survey was 35 per cent and the Graduate Careers Australia code of practice said a response rate below 50 per cent should prohibit publication.

A university spokeswoman said the student-to-staff ratios range was very narrow and questioned the guide's assessment of student demand.

The university has 21 students to each teacher, but 20 students results in a three-star rating in the guide, and 17 students a five-star rating.

She said the university scored well in areas of access, participation and research.

Callaghan Campus had nothing but praise for the university yesterday.

Arts student Emma Forwood said teachers were very knowledgable and helpful.

Design and technology teaching student Patrick Lloyd said it was his third university and the best he had been to.

Art-science student Mathew Woodward said the university was large and there were plenty of services.

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