Floored by flawed audit

November 12, 1999

Peter Williams claims that the Quality Assurance Agency report on Thames Valley University was "accepted in its entirety by the university's board of governors" (Whistleblower, THES, November 5). It was not; only the recommendations were accepted and these were already in train.

TVU management accepted responsibility for a period of administrative chaos, but a flawed report damaged a rapidly recovering university where it has been shown that academic standards were maintained. Severely flawed audits should not be used as evidence to erode the historical autonomy of our universities, and it was wrong to use the threat of disciplinary action to suppress my criticism.

Former vice-chancellor Mike Fitzgerald claims QAA chief executive John Randall told him that an example was to made of TVU, the workshop at Warwick heard that the QAA review was above all else a "political phenomenon", Phil Baty correctly implies that the report had yet more flaws. The QAA's worthiness to wield power over universities should now be the subject of unrestricted debate.

Andy Ross, Former director, undergraduate studies, TVU

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