Academic form

October 13, 2016

It is reported that, from 2017, students in England will be offered a choice of “gold, silver and bronze” universities under the teaching excellence framework (“England’s universities to have medal-style ratings for teaching”, News, 6 October). “Bronze” connotes being “significantly below” government benchmark standards. Readers may be interested in the following letter, received at a nearby university. 

Dear Mr Platt, 

Thank you for submitting your Academy for rating under the teaching excellence framework.

I am instructed to inform you that the minister accepts her inspectors’ recommendation to award your Academy (subject to
a one-year grace period) the lowest provisional ranking – bronze – because it falls significantly below nine benchmarks.

1) Your entrance requirement, “Let none enter who has not mastered geometry”, is discriminatory against GCSEs and A-levels of equal value, too restrictive, and irrelevant to the skills in philosophy that you impart.

2) You persist in disseminating the work of Mr S. O. Crates, who has been convicted of corrupting the youth.

3) Contrary to our access guidelines, the Academy is exclusive and not open to the public.

4) The minister notes with approval that the Academy is a private university wholly owned by you, but with disapproval that you refuse to charge fees to Academy students.

5) Contrary to policy on gender equality, we have records of only two women who studied with you at the Academy: Axiothea of Phlius and Lasthenia of Mantinea.

6) There is no clear distinction between teachers and students, nor a formal curriculum.

7) Your Academy does not impart clear doctrine, but poses problems – to which the teachers have no firm answers – to be studied and solved by the students.

8) Although some lectures are given, the use of dialectic is more common. 

9) There is no student evaluation as required in the TEF.

If, during the one-year grace period, you provide independent evidence that these deficiencies have been remedied, the minister may consider you for a higher ranking. 

Yours faithfully 

Instrumentalis Ridiculus (implementation secretary to the minister)

Michael Lipton 
Professor emeritus, University of Sussex


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