Letter: QAA moratorium (1)

September 14, 2001

There must be a moratorium on Quality Assurance Agency reviews (Letters, THES , September 7). Nothing will be gained by rushing into another elaborate system of audit as proposed by the QAA.

Credibility and cooperation need to be restored, but not at any price. If there has to be an audit system, it must be clear and limited to what is relevant and productive. Much of what goes on under the name of quality consists of fault-finding and small-mindedness.

The system was bound to hit problems, largely because of its in-built bureaucracy, but also because it relied on ill-trained academics who were led to look for problems.

The self-evident solution is to scrap subject review and have a single system of institutional review. Institutions should be able to demonstrate how they manage subject quality and protect standards.

Ironically, most of the material for such a simple system already exists in the QAA handbook and in the Code of Practice. Add to this programme specifications and the national qualifications framework, and you have everything more or less in place.

One of the things a moratorium will provide is time to consider how to regulate the QAA. Perhaps a broad-based quality council, with representatives from the unions, the Institute for Learning and Teaching, employers and the National Union of Students might work.

Whatever emerges, there can be no return to league-table results or paper-gathering.

Martin Coyle
Senior lecturer in English
Cardiff University

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