Frank Webster is on thin ice when he associates the proportion of assessed work with the maintenance of standards. Since students obtain marks that are significantly better on course work than in examinations, the fourfold increase in this form of assessment, reported by Webster, would surely be expected to produce a marked increase in student performance. In simple terms, as the proportion of the easier (since students do much better) component increases, then the overall performance should increase.
It seems that improvements have not been achieved and, quite contrary to Webster's assertions, this could indicate that standards are indeed falling. All other things being equal, of course.
Bill Plumbridge Head of materials discipline Open University