Divided academy won't boost quality 2

November 26, 2009

The Government's approach to quality is to remove support from courses regarded as unsatisfactory. Such a policy seems destructive. A more positive approach would be to use metrics of quality to identify where improvement is required and then focus resources on achieving it.

As Peter Williams argues, it is "anybody's guess" which metrics should be used to link quality with funding, but Paul Ramsden's suggestion of the National Student Survey is hardly the right one for the job: it is a narrow measure of quality that has "league-tabled" institutions since its development six years ago.

A more useful metric would be the data collected by institutionally based student-experience surveys: they are more likely to provide relevant, specific and up-to-date data from students about what is needed at the institutional level.

Incorporated into a clear feedback-and-action cycle, this approach has been demonstrated, at several institutions in the UK and abroad, to have a positive impact on the quality of the student experience.

James Williams, Birmingham City University.

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