Abertay goes on critical list

五月 24, 2002

Urgent action is necessary to assure degree standards at the University of Abertay Dundee, the Quality Assurance Agency has warned. Funding chiefs may intervene to supervise necessary reforms.

Two damning QAA audit reports and a critical teaching inspection risk labelling Abertay as Britain's second university to be failing. The first was Thames Valley University in 1997.

The agency has ordered a review of external examining and monitoring arrangements and made a further nine recommendations.

A QAA institutional audit published this week concludes that Abertay's failure to understand even "the basic standards safeguards" required for its overseas courses and significant weaknesses elsewhere "leads to the conclusion that urgent further action is necessary if the standards of the university's awards, wherever they are offered, are to be properly secured".

The QAA said there could be only "limited confidence" in Abertay's ability to assure its degree standards. There will be a standard follow-up to the audit within the year. The Scottish Higher Education Funding Council confirmed it would be monitoring the situation and expected Abertay to take "swift action" to address the concerns.

Management of the overseas operations was the key area of the QAA's concern. An audit of operations in Greece, also expected to be damning, will be published next week.

The audit team noted that the university had declared itself "satisfied" that standards were being maintained overseas, despite two critical audits in 1996 and a number of continued problems.

The university validated courses delivered entirely by the Greek partner, North College, where only Greek external examiners, who have "no experience of teaching, assessing or examining in the UK", were used, says the report.

The QAA report says: "The audit team was not convinced that the university as yet fully understands either the basic or additional standards safeguards required for its overseas collaborations... The team considers this to be somewhat surprising, given the ample opportunity the university has had to reflect critically upon its own experiences."

The QAA audit concludes that Abertay is failing to engage in the national standards debate either at university or subject level.

The audit follows a critical inspection last year of ten business and management degrees. The QAA said it had confidence in the standards of the programmes but raised concerns about undergraduate progression rates, teaching methods and staff development and support.

Abertay's public relations consultants said: "We welcome the report, especially its praise for many aspects of our operations. With regard to the issues raised by the report, concerning some of our overseas collaborations, we have already taken action to improve and strengthen our systems.

"We have thoroughly reviewed our quality-management procedures and have revised our quality-assurance structures to take fully into account the current developments in quality assurance in the sector."



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