Power to the providers

August 18, 2006

The feature "Is the aim 'asses in classes'?" (August 11) overlooks a number of points. The changes made to the criteria for degree-awarding powers benefit all areas of higher education, not just the private sector.

One of the keys areas overlooked was students' perception of the changes. Independent research carried out in 2004 showed that more than 60 per cent of students who were not at an institution that could award its own degrees cited the institution that was awarding their degree as a significant factor in their decision about where to study.

Providers that gain degree-awarding powers might well use the awarding of these powers as a benchmark to show that their teaching and learning is of the same standard as that of others in the sector.

Since the changes to the criteria came into force we have seen a handful of institutions only applying for degree-awarding powers and, with the changes that were made to the auditing of such institutions by the Quality Assurance Agency, the Privy Council will not be handing those powers to anybody who knocks on its door.

Finally, what impact will this have on the sector? Vice-chancellors interviewed as part of the 2004 study were not concerned about the changes in criteria or the impact on the sector or on their institution.

Steve Lambert

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