Quelling QAA myths

August 13, 2004

Alan Ryan uses his silly season column (Opinion, August 6) to rail against the Quality Assurance Agency and to express astonishment that one of his former students should wish to become its chairman.

It is both traditional and entirely appropriate for the views of old tutors to be challenged by the next generation. More worrying in a scholar of such eminence, however, are both the obvious failure to consult primary sources and an apparent tendency to believe what he reads in the newspapers. If he had read Sam Younger's original article he would have discovered no reference whatsoever to Ofsted. That addition was a bit of journalistic licence.

Nor has it been possible for the past three years to get "24 out of 24" in any QAA review. The world has moved on and Ryan should put away myths and legends and try to keep up.

Happily, and despite the hordes of neurotically anxious dons he encountered wandering round Oxford University in fearful anticipation of the QAA's visit (and those were only the "moderately rational" ones; what happened to the irrational ones, I ask myself?), our recent audit does not appear to have dented his university's traditions. He seems still able to contribute his own "wonderful 10 per cent" with the best of them.

Peter Williams
Chief executive
Quality Assurance Agency

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