Spot checks on quality

October 3, 1997

Huw Richards reports from the fringe meetings at the Labour party conference in Brighton

Student leaders are calling for spot checks on quality in university departments.

Doug Trainer, president of the National Union of Students, said in Brighton he believed that the current set-up lent itself to institutions playing the system rather than addressing quality issues. "We hear of too many departments who stage what they want the inspectors to see. We know of cases where students have been briefed on what to say and picked to meet inspectors on the basis of their 'loyalty' to the institution." The NUS had spoken to the new single quality agency, which it welcomes, about the idea.

Mr Trainer called for student representation, arguing that the introduction of fees made quality issues of particular urgency for students. "It is crucial in the next few years before the benefits from fee income are seen in the system. There is a risk that students during that period will pay out extra for a product that is not necessarily improved," he said.

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