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ANU's teaching score confusing, chief says

The Australian National University has rejected suggestions much of its students' success is self-driven following suggestions its teaching staff can't actually teach.

Results from the 2012 Good Universities Guide, issued yesterday, have shown that despite having some of the most qualified staff in the county, the institute's rating in the ''teaching quality'' category has received a rating of just two out of five stars.

A Canberra Times reader has also described the category as the Achilles heel of the university, saying its lecturers lacked presentation skills and tutors had poor English.

But Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young said the rating did not make sense given the institute's past performance.

''It is a little confusing, I must say'' he said.

''I think last year we had four or five stars for teacher quality and you wouldn't think that quality of teaching could change that dramatically from year to year.''

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Professor Young stressed the rest of the survey's results were positive and showed the ANU was clearly setting up students for success.

The university was one of only two across the country to receive five stars in all three categories of graduate starting salary, getting a full-time job and positive graduate outcomes (University of NSW was the other).

The institute also received five stars in student demand, research grants, research intensivity, staff-student ratios and staff qualifications and four-star ratings in generic skills and overall satisfaction.

The only areas to fall down in the university were one- and two-star ratings for gender balance, entry flexibility and the proportion of TAFE accredited students.

But Professor Young said developing extra pathways into the university was already a key focus for the future alongside the research-led environment.

''We think educating students in a research-led environment remains important because it develops skills ... in working independently, in researching and moving to the next level. We think that is what employers are seeing as the key benefits in our students.''

Meanwhile, the University of Canberra was awarded four stars in the teaching quality segment as well as four- and five-star ratings for positive graduate outcomes, salaries and full-time job participation.

Vice-Chancellor Stephen Parker said the successful entry into the employment market resulted largely on the implementation of on-the-job experiences into course degrees.

''Employers know University of Canberra graduates can hit the ground running in the workplace and that is why they are among the most sought after,'' he said.

The university fell significantly behind the ANU in the categories of student demand, research grants and overall student satisfaction, being awarded just two stars in each category.

But Mr Parker said many of those ratings relied on old data.

He pointed out the institution had won close to $10 million worth of research grants in recent months.

Recent improvements to student facilities, accommodation and car parking would also increase satisfaction ratings.

Mr Parker said more students were nominating UC as their first preference for tertiary study and university cut-offs were rising as result.