Standard practice

June 18, 1999

It is true that TQA is being phased out after the millennium, but the details of the new process have still to be worked through and there is no sign that the central weakness of TQA as a vehicle for quality improvement - the issuing of summative quantified gradings or "scores" - will disappear. As long as we have numerical gradings, so the pressure to get round them, and thus deflate them, will be there.

On the subject of Thames Valley University, the situation is being presented as being about quality and standards. Having read the QAA report and being familiar with some of the issues, it seems clear that while standards may have been at risk, the real issue was management and governance. The report shows that TVU was a comprehensively mismanaged institution in which nearly every precept of good management practice was broken or not followed. It is this - management and leadership - on which our attempts to learn from TVU should surely focus.

Roger Brown Principal, Southampton Institute

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