Quality official predicts failures

January 13, 1995

More universities will face the prospect of departments receiving the equivalent of "unsatisfactory" quality gradings when the Higher Education Funding Council for England introduces its new system of assessment later this year, a HEFCE quality official has predicted.

Geographers attending a session on The Experience of Quality at last week's Institute of British Geographers conference, held at the University of Northumbria, heard Mike Emery of HEFCE's Quality Assessment Division say: "Some people think it will be easier to give a grade one (the lowest rank in the new system) than tell a vice chancellor that their department is unsatisfactory (the bottom of the present scale)."

He said this view was widespread among assessors. None of the "unsatisfactory" ratings so far awarded had related to failings under a single heading.

When the new system is introduced, with departments rated on a four-point numerical scale for six different aspects of their work and provision, a single grade one on any of the criteria will be sufficient to earn a "yellow card" and a subsequent visit one year later from the assessors.

A second failure will lead to HEFCE withdrawing some or all of its funding.

He also predicted that the new system might rapidly become unpopular with vice chancellors: "I suspect that some vice chancellors will get fed up with it and will want 'excellent' back as a grade."

He said that the unpopularity of "satisfactory" as a grading had been an important factor in the introduction of the new system.

The new system, which comes into force when the next assessment round begins in April this year, will not affect the geographers -- under assessment in the current round -- for several years. Mr Emery said assessors had so far completed 19 of the 40 or more geography visits planned.

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

Globalisation

Times Higher Education World University Rankings data reveal the top 200 most outward-looking institutions

Common cactus finch (Geospiza scandens)

Tiffany Taylor on a thought-provoking view of the forces acting to ensure survival

Stressed businessman answering four telephones

Some surveys show faculty putting in at least 60 hours a week, but research casts doubt on whether this is a productive routine

Student asking question during class

University of Reading research finds link between undergraduate satisfaction and ethnicity of lecturers

Level of quality compass

Authors argue this means universities should spend less on senior academics and give promising younger scholars more of a chance