What doctors need is a dose of fairness (2 of 2)

May 31, 2012

While raising a number of valid concerns about the external assessment of PhDs in the UK, Chris Hackley seems to take consumer sovereignty beyond its limits (if it is indeed appropriate to education at all).

In effect, he suggests that PhD external examiners should pass the theses submitted because of the fees students have paid, the time they have spent and the effort they have made. Alternatively, externals should withdraw from the process in the hope that even more generous examiners may then be found.

This view seems to be partly based on the assumption that supervisors have deemed their students' "work to be worthy of examination", as Hackley puts it. In my experience of many institutions in the UK, supervisor approval for the submission of a thesis is not a requirement and cannot be assumed. Indeed, with pressure on completion rates, students effectively must submit before (typically) four years, regardless of how their work has progressed.

Nevertheless, this freedom does help to ensure some protection from dependence upon supervisors and their own prejudices and patronage, a freedom that is not always so evident in the European systems that Hackley favours, regardless of their other advantages.

Andrew Sturdy, Bristol

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald