Moral hazards

August 10, 2017

Lesley-Jane Eales-Reynolds (Letters, 3 August) makes a useful suggestion for some “calibration” across universities for what it actually means to meet Higher Education Academy standards. The University of Roehampton case (“Credibility of the UK’s teaching fellowship process under scrutiny”, News, 20 July) points to the need for greater transparency and peer control.

The need to ensure that teaching is of a consistently high standard has become the subject of internally set performance measures such as “requiring” all staff to gain HEA recognition, and external marketing incentives such as the teaching excellence framework. This creates moral hazards in a situation where the HEA has delegated the right to award fellowship recognition to universities.

In the Roehampton case, the university’s investigation report records that the university’s fellowship review panel decided to override the HEA accreditation requirement for two referees’ reports on each application. Despite this, the investigator found “no evidence” to support the allegations made regarding the validity of the procedure undertaken. This suggests a fundamental disconnect about who has the power to award fellowship status.

Rebecca Boden
University of Tampere, Finland


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