Spot the difference

January 17, 2008

As a former Quality Assurance Agency review co-ordinator, I begin to wonder just exactly what the agency is now doing to enhance the quality of university provision ("QAA to enlist students to audit quality", 10 January).

I wonder whether it has lost its mission, since its current practices fail to engage at the level where it really matters, namely the students' learning and their assessment. What real difference has it made to these in the past few years? The mere fact that institutions' procedures are in place may have little bearing on actual practices.

I have always believed that students are at university primarily to study. Should they not be doing this instead of missing important lectures while they go on jaunts around the country? I also notice that they are to receive a remuneration of the same amount as someone with perhaps 30 years in the business. I did not realise that the QAA had a flat salary structure where everyone was paid the same amount.

If we are serious about quality enhancement then we need to look further than the boardrooms of universities. Otherwise, someone eventually is going to ask: what difference is this making to the student experience?

Allan Ashworth, Visiting professor, University of Salford.

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