Scots quick to correct

March 14, 1997

Your report on the decision not to publish the results of a quality assessment constructed by the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council at the University of St Andrews stated that the draft report was withdrawn "after representation from St Andrews" (THES, March 7). This is not the case. When the report was considered by SHEFC's quality assessment committee it was decided that the highly focused nature of the university's international relations curriculum made it inappropriate to assess the provision within the politics subject area.

It is unfortunate that the extent of the specialisation had not been appreciated by the council's quality assessment branch at an earlier stage in the process. To address this problem, more stringent procedures are now in place to determine at the outset what provision should be assessed under each subject area. There was no request from St Andrews to withdraw the report. Neither should the decision bring into question the integrity of the quality assessment in politics. The fact that this error was picked up as part of the council's rigorous process of scrutinising the outcomes of quality assessment visits is a strength of the quality assessment process and not a weakness.

John Sizer

Chief executive Scottish Higher Education Funding Council

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