Vice chancellors and the Higher Education Funding Council for England reached agreement this week on the future of quality assurance in English universities. But there is still concern about details of the agreement, which will be discussed by all vice chancellors on June 9.
At a meeting of the funding council last week it was agreed that proposals contained in a letter from Ken Edwards, chairman of the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals, for a single quality assurance agency provided the basis for further discussions.
Graeme Davies, chief executive of HEFCE, met Dr Edwards on Tuesday. The discussion focused on two broad areas; "the elements of a single integrated quality assurance process that brings together audit and assessment involving both external and internal peer assessors" and "the timetable and steps towards the establishment of a quality assurance agency".
The present programme of assessments will continue for the time being but the method will increasingly reflect the principles agreed between the council, CVCP and the Standing Conference of Principals.
The funding council is due to deliver its report on proposed future arrangements to Gillian Shephard, Secretary of State for Education, at the beginning of June. A main committee meeting of the CVCP will discuss the document on June 9.
It is also not clear at this stage if the new agency would be United Kingdom-wide, which the Scottish Principals would prefer.
John Andrews, chief executive of the Welsh funding council, said: "In principle the HEFCW would be willing to consider the possibility of a single assessment body."