Unfair comparison

May 16, 1997

I write on behalf of Southampton Institute to express amazement that, in your editorial of May 2 you should draw parallels between the regrettable situation at La Sainte Union, Southampton, and the affairs of this institute.

All nine Higher Education Funding Council for England subject assessments over the past four years have been satisfactory, and the last three reviews, undertaken using the new scoring methodology, have produced scores of 19 for sociology, 19 for electrical and electronic engineering and 21 for film studies.

There has never been any challenge to the academic quality or integrity of courses and research at Southampton Institute by either HEFCE or the Higher Education Quality Council.

You misrepresent normal standard assessments of the institute and its activities as being somehow "sinister". All institutions of higher education receive an HEQC audit.

Professor Hall was invited to advise on how communication could be enhanced. His recommendations on communications, including a weekly newssheet, changes to the style of meetings and increased use of email internally have all been introduced.

Because of malicious and unsubstantiated allegations, HEFCE has had occasion to audit the institute and its activities. In all of its reports it has found no significant matters of concern, but has suggested some areas for improvement and enhancement, a normal outcome of any audit.

Your actions in seeking to concatenate Southampton Institute with the problems of others in indefensible and irresponsible.

Southampton Institute is a leading provider of full and part-time vocational higher education and contributor to applied research and consultancy in this region.

David Leyland

Director, Southampton Institute

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