Publish and be damned 1

October 31, 2003

Roger Brown, Geoffrey Alderman and many others miss the point about publication of external examiner reports on the web ("Peer review rejig axed in crisis fear", THES , October 24). By openly publishing what are largely short-term shortcomings, we risk prejudicing overseas student recruitment, on which UK higher education heavily depends.

The prospect of external examiners "signing off" with "yes or no answers" is small comfort. The activities of industrial and commercial companies seeking accreditation to international quality standards are not subject to such public display. It is presupposed they will take corrective action usually in a 90-day time-frame.

The requirement to publish external examiner reports is potentially damaging and confirms the mistrust that still exists despite considerable and expensive quality activities for over a decade.

What remaining quality problems will be solved by such external interference?

Kel Fidler
Vice-chancellor
Northumbria University

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