Mercenary system 1

August 16, 2002

Geoffrey Alderman freely admits to helping universities pull the wool over the eyes of inspectors through his "how to pass a teaching quality assessment" courses (Analysis, THES , August 9). He is not alone.

Higher education institutions everywhere have been busy considering important academic matters, such as how to arrange their "baseroom", how much "evidence" to compile, how to standardise CVs and how to fit intellectual pursuits into "learning outcomes", "precepts" and all the other jargon that surrounds the TQA process.

With the move to internal audit, institutions are now busy co-opting academics to serve the same function. It is all pretty mercenary - you want to earn promotion, you go along with it, even champion it, and all in the name of quality.

The winners are the educational entrepreneurs, careerists whose concern isn't the pursuit of their subject, but the pursuit of quality. The losers are the students, whose role is to be recruited, retained, counselled, consulted and patronised... but rarely challenged.

Jim Butcher
Senior lecturer
Canterbury Christ Church University College

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