Phil Baty of Times Higher Education on the difficulty of arriving at a measure of the quality of teaching [so that this measure can be used in a ranking exercise]:
"To think that such a ratio [i.e., staff to student ratio, SSR] could signify 'teaching quality' shows how serious a problem we face with rankings that privilege the availability of a metric over its validity," the academic said.
He is, of course, right. The same point was made in a paper from the Russian Rectors' Union, handed to me by Victor Sadovnichiy, president of Moscow State University, earlier this month.
It argues that "good teachers always have a lot of students, bad teachers have few".
SSR figures are also easy to manipulate and hard to verify.
David Graham, provost of Concordia University in Canada, opened the web discussion by highlighting research that shows that a ratio of anywhere from 6:1 to 39:1 can be achieved with the same institution's data.