Letter: Corporatist QAA

June 29, 2001

No one reading the Quality Assurance Agency's audit report on the Middlesex University franchise in Cairo would recognise it as justifying Phil Baty's story ("Franchises fail to impress", THES , June 15). The QAA found arrangements for safeguarding the academic standards of the award were "sound and command confidence".

What is worrying, however, is the QAA's inability to grasp the nature of an academic communitas. The agency's approach is corporatist. It believes the requirements of institutional responsibility for quality and standards demand more central control, and that it is only through central control that such responsibilities can be discharged. This is not how academia works. One would have thought the troubles the QAA has visited on itself would have tempered its obsession with the compliance culture of command and control that is one of the hallmarks of its failed methodologies. Evidently not.

Geoffrey Alderman
New York, United States

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