Laurie Taylor Column

June 29, 2001

A quality assurance expert claims that a "cartel" of quality inspectors has artificially bolstered the performance of philosophy departments in the Teaching Quality Assessment exercise - THES, June 22

Gumbril speaking.

Charles. Roger here. Roger Dampier. I was up at your place last month conducting the old TQA exercise.

How are you, Roger? Safe journey back?

Absolutely. And many thanks from all of us on the philosophy team for that splendid dinner you laid on at Chez Nicole. Excellent food and fine company.

Well, our department does not get out too much these days. Not since we lost two members of staff.

I sympathise with you completely. We are now down to three full-timers.

Well, at least we were able to provide a little mutual support.

Not to mention the pleasure of meeting fellow academics with some respect for logical argument.

People who can spot a category mistake when they see one.

Exactly so. Actually, talking about category mistakes, I did rather want to have a word with you about that TQA exercise. We have decided to give you 23.7 out of 24.

That is very generous.

Not at all. It is the average mark for every department that we have inspected. Frankly, we give "excellents" to everyone.

This is a deliberate strategy of ours.

Oh yes. You could call it empirically based. You recall the moment when Doctor Johnson was asked for his view on Bishop Berkeley's theory on the non-existence of matter?

He struck his foot against a large stone until it rebounded and shouted: "I refute it thus."

You have got it in one. Goodbye, Roger.

Goodbye, Charles.

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