Do not get too excited about David Blunkett's "lighter" touch inspections. The THES deduced that "the plan would lead to a 40 per cent reduction in inspections". So this means future reviews will be only 60 per cent as burdensome? Unfortunately not.
The Department for Education and Employment states that some departments will not be reviewed at all. "Taken with the planned further reduction in the average length of reviews, the aim is to secure a reduction of 40 per cent or more in the volume of review activity," it states on its website.
In other words, a proportion of departments will be exempt and the burden on the remainder will constitute 60 per cent of present activities. If, as a rough estimate, a fifth of departments are exempted, the remainder will be the target of a review that is 75 per cent as onerous. This looks considerably less lighter of touch.
I would offer a special one-on-two numeracy hour to John Randall and David Blunkett, but I really ought to be preparing for our QAA visit.
David C. Lane
Senior lecturer in management science, London School of Economics.