Call off the inspector

April 26, 1996

The Welsh are proud of their own brand of quality assurance. So much so that they might even resist moves to push them together with the English in a new, single quality regime.

Many of the distinctive features of quality assurance, Welsh style, were included in the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals' position paper in the run-up to the creation of the joint planning group for a single quality agency.

Among these features are self-assessment reports by departments against which external assessments are judged; quality "profiles" to show strengths and weaknesses in departments; and the key role of self-evaluation.

The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales wrote to the Welsh Secretary outlining its views on how external assessment, internal review and quality audit could combine in a single system. And it is now involved in the deliberations of the joint planning group in the hope that the progress made in this area in Wales will be picked up by the proposed new agency.

But John Andrews, the funding council's chief executive, has warned that while a joint system would be welcome, HEFCW would not want to lose the advantage gained in Wales.

"If the JPG came up with a system which seemed to go backwards on the Welsh position we would consult with institutions, and there may be a dilemma over whether to keep our system or to go into a joint system," he said.

Last year the Welsh council warned John Redwood, then Welsh Secretary, that a new system which was inspectorial would "not sit easily" with its own quality regime.

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