The Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals has written to the Secretary of State for Education and Employment this week with its own proposals for a single agency to assure quality in universities. Vice chancellors rejected proposals from the Higher Education Funding Council for England last month, and instead decided to submit their own.
In a covering letter to Mrs Shephard the CVCP warns: "Unless the HEFCE scheme is revised as we suggest, a continuation of separate internal institutional reviews would be unavoidable, leading to wasteful replication between internal and external processes." The letter also argues that the HEFCE proposals do not cover all the functions which a single process would need to address and would cost significantly more than the present arrangements.
The CVCP wants to work towards a United Kingdom-wide approach and for the new agency to look at the issue of standards, once the Higher Education Quality Council has reported in the autumn on how broad comparability of standards can be assured nationally.
The CVCP is proposing: * A single agency, which would be an independent external body to which the funding council would contract the task of teaching quality assessment.
* A joint planning group to be established at once, with a membership nominated by the Government, the funding councils, the CVCP and the Standing Conference of Principals. The CVCP would like the group to be CVCP-led, or under an independent chairman.
* The new process should come into existence by early 1997.
* Rigorous self-evaluation incorporating external review to be at the centre of the process of quality assurance.
* Periodic external evaluation of each institution every five or six years, leading to a published report, which would include scrutiny of an institution's internal review processes and the outcomes of subject/programme assessment and the means by which standards are set in the institution.