Resentment over appointments and promotions at the Quality Assurance Agency is high.
Disaffected sources close to the QAA were so sure that Julie Swan would beat rivals to become the QAA's director of development that they were able to announce accurately her appointment before the agency had finished interviewing for the post. This took some of the shine off the appointment - regardless of Ms Swan's talents.
Ms Swan's promotion was announced in a mock press release issued to The THES on December 7 1998. On December 9, a QAA spokeswoman rubbished the release, saying no appointment had been announced and that interviews had still been taking place on December 7. A week later, the same spokeswoman confirmed Ms Swan's appointment in a real press release dated December 14.
Ms Swan, 34, has been with the agency for only a year. She followed chief executive John Randall from the Law Society, where she was manager for legal education and training. She joined the QAA as a senior policy adviser and soon became an assistant director, before being promoted to the top board.
The mock release refers to her "meteoric rise" as "without precedent and suspicious" and it suggests an element of "cronyism".
Countering this, the QAA spokeswoman said Mr Randall had introduced a policy to ensure that appointments were made only after interview by more than one person. Ms Swan was initially appointed by a panel of two, including Mr Randall. The QAA rejects the suggestion that Ms Swan's subsequent promotions were a foregone conclusion. It said that Ms Swan was promoted to assistant director as part of a "rationalisation of job titles", without change to her remit or salary. She was promoted to the directorship, the QAA said, "on the strength of her record with the agency".
Ms Swan is not the first of Mr Randall's former colleagues to join the QAA.
Director of administration Stewart Bushell also came from the Law Society.