Readers wary of assessment by funders

January 20, 1995

Readers of The THES are chary about quality systems that involve funders in the quality process, according to responses to our question last week.

Margaret Rooney, senior lecturer in quality management at Cranfield University, said that the Higher Education Funding Council for England had failed to acknowledge the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals' work on quality when setting up its own system, a move which "runs contrary to modern quality management principles".

John Harding, pro vice chancellor of the University of Surrey said that the CVCP's Higher Education Quality Council was "helpful, beneficial and more robust" than the HEFCE version.

Geoffrey Penzer, a consultant on quality management to the Welsh funding council, said that some sort of assurance is "all the more vital" when there is public concern about falling standards.

Other respondents pointed to the scope for quality to be considered in an even wider context. Brian Salter, academic registrar of King's College, London, wanted professional and statutory bodies to be more involved in the quality process -- but like others, was concerned about the load the system imposes on academics.

Harry Lewis, a University of Leeds philosopher, wants a single system that would also take in the research assessment exercise, cutting the number of watchdogs to be pacified from three to one.

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