Frank Webster argues (THES, May 24) that the increased use of assessment via course work rather than by examination can be interpreted to mean that standards have not fallen. However, what this merely demonstrates, and rather clearly, is that assessment by course work is a more generous mode of assessment.
The argument is also made that his "students come with much the same grades as before", but what matters is not grades but what has been taught and what is known. Comparisons of grades without comparison of the syllabi on which they are based are meaningless, and it is highly doubtful, even if grades have remained unchanged, that what is taught has too.
Douglas Kell Institute of Biological Sciences University of Wales, Aberystwyth