The Teacher Training Agency has blasted detailed proposals for the creation of a new single higher education quality body. It is not convinced by the plans which would knit together funding council assessment and the Higher Education Quality Council's audit system.
In its response to the final report of the joint planning group for quality assurance in higher education, it describes key sections of the proposals as "insufficient" to meet requirements for openness and accountability in the sector.
The planning group's report, published in September, recommends an eight-year timetable of subject/programme area assessments and institution-wide quality probes, with related subject areas grouped together in two-year assessment blocks. Institutions would be allowed to negotiate with the new quality agency to adjust the timetable to fit in with professional and statutory body reviews.
The plans have won the approval of Gillian Shephard, secretary of state for education and employment. But the TTA, which joined forces with the inspection agency Ofsted to publish a new framework for quality assurance in initial teacher training this week, says the proposed eight-year cycle is too long for "providing public information for accountability and for the purposes of student choice".
The TTA is also critical of proposals for peer review teams to be selected by university and college heads with the agreement of the new quality agency.