Divided on quality (2)

April 12, 2002

Australia's quality chief David Woodhouse (Letters, THES , April 5) wilfully misreads my article (Features, THES , March 22). I did not base my argument on "the analogy with financial audit". My point concerned the conceptual problems in taking an idea from finance, from which the concept of "audit" originates, and using it to evaluate practices in education and healthcare.

If you abstract the notion of "audit" from any meaningful method of measurement, it is not clear what the claim to be able to "audit" a practice means. Woodhouse and his associates supply no clear account of "quality" that could provide a meaningful basis for its measurement.

If these points are "patently false", then it should be easy for Woodhouse to supply an intellectually sound account of the meaning of "quality". So will he please do so?

Michael Loughlin
Senior lecturer in philosophy
Manchester Metropolitan University

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