Students just as challenged

Click to follow
The Independent Online
I FEEL I must respond to your article about University Challenge (27 November) in which Marie Woolf suggested that questions nowadays are easier and that teams score far less than their predecessors in the 1960s.

Marie Woolf was selective in her choice of questions to compare. We do use some easy questions, but choosing 10 in order to "prove" that standards have slipped is absurd. I could choose 10 questions which "prove" that standards are higher nowadays.

The comparison of teams' scores was equally suspect. Ms Woolf said that today's teams achieve lower scores and that in Bamber's day 250 was a common first-round score. In the first 10 matches in 1962 (the first series) no team scored 250 in a first appearance. The 1994 teams are already doing better; Keble, Oxford, and St Andrews both surpassed 250 points in their first appearances. Ms Woolf also ignored a huge change to the points system. In the 1960s bonuses were worth far more than the current 15 points - often as much as 40 points.

Ms Woolf's comparison of scores and questions, indeed, her whole argument, was inaccurate. I believe today's contestants are extremely knowledgeable on a wide range of subjects and are every bit the equals of students of 30 years ago.

Kieran Roberts Producer University Challenge Granada Television London W1