It has emerged that a routine QAA audit of Derby's Israeli operations two years ago failed to spot any of the problems confirmed by the agency in last week's report, writes Phil Baty.
Last Friday's QAA special inquiry report concluded that the Israeli operation was set up in 1996 "with insufficient care" and was managed in a way that "did not secure the quality and standards of programmes offered".
But a routine audit in February 1998 said: "The university is managing the project consistently, and demonstrating in the management of the project good practice in providing clear and specific regulatory framework."
Similar concerns surrounded the agency's routine teaching quality assessments at Thames Valley University. Earlier QAA assessments of TVU failed to identify problems that resulted in the agency's damning 1998 report. The TVU and Derby cases came to light only after whistleblowers prompted press attention.
Geoffrey Alderman, former pro vice-chancellor at Middlesex University and an expert in British and Israeli higher education quality systems, said:
"How come none of the alleged deficiencies was revealed by the 1998 audit of the Derby link? Rather like TVU, two different types of report by the QAA on the same institution come to radically different conclusions."
The QAA said in its inquiry report last week that "many of the events which are discussed in the present report occurred after (the 1998) visit".
Letters, page 13