Unto the breach

March 11, 2010

Your article "Bournemouth academic's constructive dismissal claim upheld" (www.timeshighereducation.co.uk, 26 February) has generated a great deal of comment.

Several of the views expressed dwell on the issue of academic standards, but do not acknowledge that Paul Buckland failed to adhere to our marking procedures and protocols; that he refused to cooperate with an internal academic inquiry into the matter; and that crucially, his marking was not supported by three independent external examiners, all experts in their field.

Bournemouth University lost the case in the Court of Appeal not on the matter of academic quality, over-marking or so-called "dumbing down", but because of the way in which the chair of the examining board dealt with Buckland. Under contract law, a breach of contract, once committed, cannot be fixed.

Nick Petford, Pro vice-chancellor, Bournemouth University.

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