Quality assessment assured

July 16, 2015

The Higher Education Funding Council for England welcomes Roger Brown’s contribution to the debate about future approaches to quality assessment (“A watchdog is for life”, Opinion, 9 July). The consultation recently published by the funding bodies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland aims to stimulate a wide-ranging discussion.

We are encouraged by his support for our proposals for approaches that are sensitive to the context of an individual institution. We also agree with his emphasis on the importance of providing better assurances to students and other stakeholders about the broad comparability of academic output standards. And, of course, reducing unnecessary bureaucracy is a key component of our proposals. We look forward to debating these and the other issues raised by Brown over the coming weeks and months.

We do, however, wish to be clear that in relation to Hefce’s involvement, our consultation proposals are located securely within Hefce’s powers for quality assessment as set out in Section 70 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. The act’s use of the term “quality of education” is capable of broad interpretation, and Hefce’s work with Universities UK and GuildHE in 2010 confirmed that the funding council has a legitimate interest, as part of its statutory duty, in the arrangements adopted by autonomous degree-awarding bodies for setting and maintaining their academic standards.

Susan Lapworth
Registrar
Higher Education Funding Council for England

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