Feedback from students is an essential element of any pedagogic process: without it, education is reduced to indoctrination. Standardised evaluation forms and formal box-ticking exercises such as the NSS are not an effective means of providing such feedback. Only when the pedagogic relationship is seen and practised as an ongoing dialogue involving regular face-to-face interactions between students and their tutors and lecturers can such feedback be integrated into the learning process and thereby acted upon.
With staff-to-student ratios having declined over the past three decades from a high of 1:8 to more than 1:22, universities are no longer providing the conditions necessary for strong, interactive and vibrant cultures of learning. Students are being denied the opportunity of becoming independent learners, not through overdirection, but through a lack of contact hours and detailed attention to written work.
Far from challenging the status quo, Furedi supports it by endorsing pedagogic practices that are all of a piece with the chronic underfunding of higher education.
Jon Nixon, Kendal, Cumbria