Valid definitions? 1

July 25, 2003

The article "Quality audit queries OU-validated degrees" ( THES, July 18) about the Quality Assurance Agency audit of our Danish partnership misses the real significance of the report's findings. The key issue is the QAA's disregard for the implications of accreditation, as defined in its "code of practice" and widely used by UK universities.

The Open University has been in dialogue with the QAA since the audit. We believe that its conclusions are unsound, but most of all we urge the agency to stand by its own definition of accreditation rather than to suggest that there are no circumstances in which a providing institution can be given "wide authority" or where an awarding institution can justify "limited control over the quality assurance function". We believe that not to do so will impoverish opportunities for collaborative activity for UK universities and their partners.

Kate Clarke
Director
Open University validation services

Paul Clark
Pro vice-chancellor (learning and teaching)
Open University

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