Sir Michael Bichard's views on higher education appear to coincide with those of his former political masters ("Universities resisting efforts to hold them accountable, Bichard says", THES , January 11). As a senior civil servant, he might have advised ministers of the following facts:
- UK universities and colleges have internal quality systems that are as extensive and elaborate as any in the world
- These systems have been tested through a unique two-level regime. Very few serious quality problems were found
- There is general agreement that this system should be streamlined and replaced by one equally robust that offers better value for money
- Since 1997, a new quality infrastructure has been introduced. This includes a national qualifications framework, benchmarks for 42 subject areas and programme specifications for each course
- Information from all these processes will be scrutinised and published.
Sir Michael's former department recently sponsored a centre to develop evidence-informed policies and practices in education. Is it too much to suggest that this might be a future first port of call for ministerial advisers?
Principal, Southampton Institute