Bedfordshire under fire for multiple PhD resubmission

‘Seriously flawed’ decision broke university regulations, QAA finds

October 31, 2013

The University of Bedfordshire has been criticised for breaking its own rules to allow a PhD student to submit a thesis for a third time.

A Quality Assurance Agency investigation found Bedfordshire’s academic standards had been endangered by the “seriously flawed” decision, which “did not reflect the academic rigour and objectivity which would be expected”.

The case concerns a PhD student whose original thesis was submitted in July 2008, but who failed to pass the viva voce held three months later.

In March-April 2010, a resubmitted thesis was deemed worthy of a doctorate by an internal examiner, but two external examiners recommended an MPhil because significant weaknesses in the thesis had not been addressed.

However, while Bedfordshire’s rules clearly state that candidates can only “resubmit for the degree and be re-examined on one occasion”, it arranged for new examiners to assess the work again 12 months later.

In 2012, a second viva was held and the candidate passed.

Two external examiners who had previously failed the candidate raised concerns with the QAA after hearing about the student’s success.

In its report, the watchdog expresses concerns about advice given to the candidate by the internal examiner between the first viva and the first resubmission.

This intervention “may have materially affected the content of the resubmitted thesis”, the QAA says, and such advice should have been left to the candidate’s supervisory team.

The watchdog also questions why the decision to set aside the examining rules was not taken by the university’s research committee or even reported in detail to it.

In July 2012, a QAA report said that Bedfordshire’s PhD appeals processes were inconsistent, unclear and unfair, with panel decisions being both uncritical and superficial.

In light of the latest findings, the university has agreed to keep under review regulations, policies and procedures revised after last year’s report. It had also made “significant personnel changes”, it added.

jack.grove@tsleducation.com

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

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham