Debate must remain public

July 17, 2008

Geoffrey Alderman throws down a gauntlet to the chief executive of the Quality Assurance Agency over the external examiner system (Letters, 10 July).

The QAA has had a procedure for "handling causes for concern" since 1 March 2007. Perhaps Alderman should use that, first obtaining the permission of those who have supplied his "evidence". There is legislation protecting those who make public interest disclosures and setting out the way in which it should be done. Have the sources laid their evidence before the managers of their institutions? The Higher Education Funding Council for England would be the appropriate authority to which they might make further disclosure on points falling within Hefce's remit. The funding council has a public interest disclosure protocol.

It is essential that this debate be conducted with the impartiality, transparency and accountability that these procedures seek to ensure. Public calls for private meetings cannot be proper. Too much is at stake.

G. R. Evans, Project leader, Improving Dispute Resolution Project.

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