Letter: Quality straits (2)

September 7, 2001

The president of the National Union of Students, Owain James, can be relied on for a speak-your-weight response when it comes to quality assurance issues. Reacting to the news of John Randall's departure from the Quality Assurance Agency, he makes an automatic connection between quality assurance and "a rigorous inspection regime" ("Randall's exit imperils light touch regime", THES , August 24).

James should ask himself if there are not more effective but less costly and less obsessively prescriptive means of giving students the reassurance they are entitled to.

He might then begin to imagine a world without the QAA, in which, for instance, external examiners resurface as the main guardians of standards and in which competition between universities sorts out the wheat from the chaff.

David Head
University of Plymouth

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