One for the archives

September 17, 2015

In his September speech to Universities UK, Jo Johnson reported (anecdotally) that some teaching was “lamentable” and he was “determined to address it”, but did not mention how (“Jo Johnson: research funding should be ‘simpler’”, 9 September). Nor in his July speech to UUK on the teaching excellence framework proposal could he say “exactly what the metrics are going to be”. I am sure that the civil servants from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills who will be helping him all conscientiously read their weekly Times Higher Education. But have they searched its archive and read what went wrong last time teaching assessment was attempted?

The first teaching quality assessments for individual subjects were carried out by the funding councils after the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. The assessments covered curriculum design and content; teaching, learning and assessment; student progression and achievement; student support and guidance; learning resources; and quality management and enhancement. From 1995, numerical scoring was introduced. Six out of six marks for each aspect gave a top score of 24 and most departments scored more than 20.

In 1997, the Dearing report expressed doubts. In the first months of 1999 it was reported that the TQAs, by then being run by the Quality Assurance Agency, had failed to pick up the looming failure of Thames Valley University; then that gamesmanship was becoming increasingly noticeable; then that concerns were emerging about judgements of higher education level teaching in further education colleges; then that higher education institutions were paying large sums for advice from those experienced in conducting assessments for the QAA. In September, the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals (now UUK) expressed concerns about including numerical ratings in any reformed system. By October, dons were reported as keen to sabotage the TQA. In January 2000, it was reported that out of 96 institutions responding, 83 per cent were not happy with the revised proposals. TQA came to an end in 2002, with a crisp THE assessment of what it had all been worth, published in August.

It’s a good read, minister.

G. R. Evans
Oxford


Send to

Letters should be sent to: THE.Letters@tesglobal.com

Letters for publication in Times Higher Education should arrive by 9am Monday. View terms and conditions.

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

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns