Quality warriors' battle of semantics

April 14, 1995

The continuing "debate" (THES, March 31) regarding quality assurance in higher education appears erroneous. The plethora of interchangeable jargon relating to quality assurance theory probably means that the funding council for England and the Committee for Vice Chancellors and Principals have the same aims (effective, efficient and economic higher education) but are engaged in a battle of semantics.

It matters not whether we use "assessment" or "audit". We are all aware by now of what is required of ourselves and higher education. We have insight into how we might achieve the aims. The HEFCE and the quality council should sit down and develop an integrated, systematic approach to quality assurance that allows for internal self-assessment which is then scrutinised by external audit. The two are compatible and complimentary and underpin the evaluation of services in any type of organisation. The debate is symptomatic of the poor understanding of, and unwillingness to embrace fully, quality assurance theory and apply it.

The time is right for action and an end to procrastination. Those who oversee and manage higher educationmust commit themselves to an integrated course of action or be seen for what they are: poor quality products.

Andrew W. Wright

Quality projects officer

Leeds College of Health

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