How to separate the piper and his boss

April 4, 1997

The next government must resolve several tricky quality and standards issues

THE LIBERAL DEMOCRAT approach to quality, outlined in their tertiary education policy document The Key to Lifelong Learning, emphasised the importance of separating responsibility in this area from that for funding. It argued that the involvement of funding councils in the monitoring of quality was "unhealthy" and for the separation of the functions.

It argued for the creation of a single quality council with the following roles:

* ensuring the quality of post-16 education and training courses

* reviewing standards and developing a process of continual improvement

* ensuring value for money and cost-effectiveness in post-16 courses, and commissioning value for money studies

* developing, in conjunction with institutions, a national credit accumulation and transfer system

* awarding qualifications to students on Credit Accumulation and Transfer schemes.

It would act as a focus for new developments allowing movement between further and higher education and between vocational and academic learning.

The Liberal Democrats argue that colleges of higher education which meet academic and numerical criteria should qualify for university status, while the title of "University College" should be created for institutions that provide predominantly higher education, but fall short of full university status on either size or range of work.

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