Appeal to reason

July 18, 2013

Geoffrey Alderman should have checked his facts before delivering his opinion (“Darkness visible”, 11 July).

I agree with him that Quality Assurance Agency reviews matter to providers, whether in terms of reputation, the impact on their licence to recruit international students, or both. These high stakes are precisely why we have introduced an appeals process.

Had Alderman asked, we could have told him that our professional indemnity insurance already covers all our reviewers. We could also have explained that our publication process follows both the spirit and the letter of the Freedom of Information Act. Being subject to the legislation would make no difference because we already publish all appeal outcomes.

If an appeal is unsuccessful, the decision is published immediately alongside the report. Rightly, if an appeal is upheld, the original review is set aside and the report is not published. To publish an appeal decision alone in these circumstances would not aid public understanding of the issues involved and might risk the impartiality of the new review, so we publish it alongside the review report, setting the full context.

The fact that this has happened in only one case so far is because only three appeals have been successful. In the remaining cases, the University of Southampton and the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance, the appeal decisions will be published as promised alongside the new reports.

Anthony McClaran
Chief executive
Quality Assurance Agency

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