Trinity keeps top spot in Cambridge league table

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The Independent Online
TRINITY, Cambridge University's biggest college and alma mater to Newton and Tennyson, has come top of this year's Tompkins table of examination results.

The table, which is compiled for The Independent by Peter Tompkins, a partner in PriceWaterhouse Coopers, is used by high-flying sixth formers to help them choose a college and by dons to monitor their colleges' performance.

Trinity, which is top for the second year running, has a convincing lead over its nearest rival, Queens', which just pips Christ's into third place.

Christ's was second last year and the leading college in the previous year.

New Hall, one of the two remaining all-women's colleges, is again bottom while Newnham, the other, slips slightly from eighteenth to twentieth.

Mr Tompkins said the table raised questions about whether young women were still attracted to all-female colleges.

Sidney Sussex shows the biggest fall, down from fourth to seventeenth.

The table measures the results by allocating five points for a first, three for an upper second, two for a lower second and one for a third It shows the percentage of the maximum possible if every candidate had gained a first. Dr Douglas Kennedy, Trinity's senior tutor, said: "We are absolutely delighted that we are top. This is the result of admitting very able students and teaching them in the right environment. A large proportion of teaching, particularly in the bigger subjects, is done in college."

But, he said, the college was wary about measuring its performance only by tables, which gave merely the overall picture. "We look more at how individual subjects in the college are faring. Some subjects get a larger proportion of firsts than others."

He said that the college attracted many high-flyers and was working hard to bring in more state school applicants, as were other colleges.

Oxbridge college league tables are controversial. Seven years ago, Oxford dons tried to stop the Norrington table, their university's equivalent of the Tompkins table, by removing college names from degree lists. They said league tables gave a misleading impression of colleges' performance.

Students immediately started to compile unofficial tables and this year Oxford admitted defeat and reinstated the college names. Merton came top of the Norrington table. Mr Tompkins, who was at Trinity, said he did not want to encourage sixth formers to use his table to decide where to apply. "There is a danger that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy," he said.

However, he thought that colleges, which were increasingly interested in marketing themselves, found it useful. "If things are going badly they may be saying they have to put more effort into attracting good pupils."


1997 position in parenthesis

1 (1) Trinity 66.35%

2 (3) Queens' 64.52%

3 (2) Christ's 64.50%

4 (8) Gonville & Caius 64.12%

5 (7) Emmanuel 63.73%

6 (11) Clare 63.22%

7 (6) Trinity Hall 62.64%

8 (10) St John's 62.54%

9 (5) Pembroke 62.49%

10 (14) King's 61.61%

11 (12) Downing 61.22%

12 (13) Fitzwilliam 60.83%

13 (15) Churchill 60.26%

14 (9) St Catharine's 59.73%

15 (16) Selwyn 59.64%

16 (20) Jesus 59.61%

17 (4) Sidney Sussex 58.60%

18 (23) Corpus Christi 58.22%

19 (21) Robinson 58.01%

20 (18) Newnham 57.93%

21 (22) Girton 57.35%

22 (17) Magdalene 57.17%

23 (19) Peterhouse 57.14%

24 (24) New Hall 55.67%