Letter(2):Real quality versus self-interest

September 28, 2001

In putting the Russell Group's views on the future of quality assurance on the front page, The THES is giving the group a weight it does not deserve.

The group is already represented on the task force looking into the bureaucratic load, and that is the place for it to have its say.

This self-interested group claims to be so elite as not to need academic auditing. Its "members", however, manifestly cannot safely be left to audit themselves. A Cambridge University that still has no student complaints procedures has no right to regard itself as above reproach.

Details of the "Armed" project, financed by the funding council, will be up on the web in a few weeks. The plan is to produce good-practice procedural guidance that all universities can use. That kind of thing, embedded in a new-style QAA institutional audit, could transform the handling of the stream of problems involving students and staff that come to the Council for Academic Freedom and Academic Standards every week.

Will everyone please stop waving fists at the departing back of John Randall and give those trying to build a really good system an opportunity to get a sense of what the real needs are?

Gillian R. Evans

Public policy secretary

Council for Academic Freedom and Academic Standards

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