Welsh are no worse 1

February 4, 2005

In the debate over the University of Wales, no one has ever suggested that standards in Welsh institutions are lower than in English ones. Indeed, the Times Higher article "Watchdog reissues warning for Wales" (January 21) tells us that, according to the Quality Assurance Agency, "there is no evidence that any awards achieved by students (in Wales) are in question". The report makes it clear that the QAA's concern is focused on the dearth of mechanisms available to the University of Wales to keep a check on its institutions.

It is a pity, therefore, that Mike Cohen and Colwyn Williamson (Letters, January 28) ignored all this and sought instead to imply, without offering evidence, that students in Wales are somehow less fortunate in the education they receive than their counterparts elsewhere.

The letter aims at the wrong target. There are very few who will deny that academic standards have fallen. But we also know that this is not unique to Welsh institutions. Still less is it anything to do with the administrative inadequacies of the University of Wales. What it is really to do with is government policy - obsession with increasing student numbers at all cost, red-tape mania, upsetting of the delicate balance between research and teaching and the breathtaking level of underfunding.

We have also to thank our vice-chancellors for the position we are in. They have acquiesced to governments over and again so that the only solution their institutions have found to the problem of falling standards is to give higher marks for lower levels of work.

Howard Moss
University of Wales, Swansea

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