'Quality' controls must be eliminated

September 10, 2009

I agree that there are huge problems with lack of autonomy in British universities ("Winning the war of independence", 3 September), but it is not just in the US where things are better - there is sanity elsewhere in Europe, too.

I spend three weeks a year as an international reader at the University of Helsinki. I run a course, with any title and content I choose. I decide how to run it, I decide its assessment format and deadline. It is wonderful to be treated as a professional who understands his subject and does not need his hand held or his backside smacked at every turn by "quality" parents.

In the UK, scholars are treated as rank amateurs who need to be controlled by pseudo-"quality" measures at every level. We are unable to provide the best education we can to our students because so much of our time is wasted filling in forms.

Once we eliminate the term "quality" from our universities, the standard of education will inevitably rise, and both lecturers and students will be happier, more motivated and effective.

Nigel Hunt, Associate professor in health psychology University of Nottingham.

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