Readers' reactions

October 22, 1999

Last week in The THES... Bruce Charlton argued academics should sabotage the Teaching Quality Assessment exercise

Aidan Foster-Carter Hon senior research fellow in sociology and modern Korea Leeds University

Bruce Charlton's case is that the TQA exercise is a corrupt Foucauldian exercise in management control, so academics should resist it rather than collaborate in their own imprisonment. Like any bureaucracy, the QAA is forever on the lookout for new ways to extend its power. Witness its bid earlier this year to seize control of external examining or its latest wheeze - to standardise allegedly misleading names and types of degree title.

Such centralising commandism is outrageous and outmoded. The QAA is Stalinism's last gasp. Universities used to be free and worked fine. In sensible countries they still do. There is nothing good or inevitable about our servitude. I'm with the resistance.

Sue Blackmore Reader in psychology University of the West of England, Bristol

The last vestige of respect I had for the TQA disappeared when I was asked to lie for it. A professor at another university asked one of her lecturers to ask me to write a letter praising the quality of their students' presentations at a conference, perhaps implying that the rest of us could learn from their excellent example. It was, I presume, destined for one of those filing cabinets full of evidence of "quality".

To me, the least dispensable of academic qualities is a love of the truth. I don't see much of that in the TQA filing cabinets.

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