Letter: What's the score? (1)

June 29, 2001

Saying that the Quality Assurance Agency subject reviewers in philosophy have formed a "cartel" ("Philosophy scores add to QAA criticism", THES , June 22) suggests that those reviewers are corrupt. What is the evidence for this, beyond the fact that those departments so far reviewed have indeed done very well? Have any of the QAA review chairs who have conducted subject review visits been consulted, for example?

There is, of course, another possible explanation for the success of the departments reviewed, namely that the their provision is indeed excellent. And this ought not to be so surprising. Philosophy departments are typically relatively small and well established, and their teaching provision is uncomplicated. This makes quality management much easier than in larger departments with more complicated arrangements to cope with. Furthermore, staff and students talk to one another a great deal so problems are likely to be identified and dealt with, which makes for satisfied students.

It would have been good to have seen acknowledged the possibility that the philosophy departments reviewed deserved their high scores along with the allegation of "cartel abuse". As reviewers, we resent the latter and, for what it's worth, have seen no evidence to support it.

Jimmy Altham
Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge

Mick Bowles
University of Greenwich.

Brian Carr
University of Nottingham.

Tim Crane
University College London.

Jim Edwards
University of Glasgow.

Nick Everitt
University of East Anglia.

Christopher Kirwan
Exeter College, Oxford.

Kevin Magill
University of Wolverhampton.

Alex Neill
University of Southampton.

David Oderberg
University of Reading.

Stephen Read
University of St Andrews.

G. A. J. Rogers
Keele University.

Peter Shott
Staffordshire University.

Nick Unwin
Bolton Institute

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