University administrators meeting in Exeter this week were treated to a description of the Quality Assurance Agency by David Allen, registrar and secretary of the University of Birmingham: "It audits our institutional processes to manage quality assurance and carries out reviews of each subject. It lays out the qualifications we should offer, the benchmark standards for our subjects, the specificiations for our programmes and the outcomes of our learning. It is our alpha and omega, omnipresent and omnipotent. Or at least it was until a week ago, when the government decided it had wasted £100 million finding out that only 0.1 per cent of our provision is unsatisfactory, and emasculated it. What joy!"