Education secretary David Blunkett has rejected pleas by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals to delay his review of universities' procedures for handling complaints.
Mr Blunkett is concerned that institutions are being too slow to introduce the fair and robust complaints procedures called for in the Dearing inquiry. He has ordered the CVCP to provide reports on institutions' progress as part of a review in the summer.
In a letter earlier this year to Department for Education and Employment director general Roger Dawe, CVCP policy adviser David Anderson-Evans appealed for a moratorium until the end of 1999. He argued that fair complaints procedures were high on university agendas, but that institutions' progress was hindered by a series of unfinished initiatives. As universities were waiting for guidance on complaints procedures from the Quality Assurance Agency and the Association of Heads of University Administration, an examination of their progress to date would be inappropriate.
Mr Dawe replied: "The secretary of state is interested primarily in what action individual institutions have taken as a result of (the) Dearing recommendation I He expected all institutions to act swiftly on that recommendation I and would not wish to delay progress until the end of the year."