Welsh resist English takeover

June 23, 1995

Plans for a single quality assurance body drawn up by the Higher Education Funding Council for England came in for fresh criticism this week - from the council's sister quango in Wales.

The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales said the key principles in a new approach to quality assessment which it was developing would "not sit easily" with HEFCE's proposals.

In a report to John Redwood, Secretary of State for Wales, the Welsh council warns that any move to create a single nationwide quality agency modelled on the English plans could run into strong resistance from Welsh institutions.

They would be reluctant to give up progress made on a distinctive quality assurance scheme being developed in Wales, which relies more heavily on institutions' own quality monitoring systems.

According to the English council's proposed timetable, a single agency would not be fully in operation until 2000-2001, by which time, the Welsh report points out, "Wales could be well into its second round of assessments under its own new regime".

The report adds: "We would be concerned at the prospect of having to move back from the achievements which will have been registered and anticipate that there may be some resistance in institutions in Wales to giving up the progress which will have been made."

The Welsh council echoes criticisms levelled at HEFCE's proposals by the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals, emphasising the need for internal assessments with external scrutiny, and the importance of maintaining institutional audit.

The report suggests that for quality assurance that remains valid for a reasonable period of time, robust self-evaluation by institutions is vital. And it urges that "further consideration must be given to the significance of external quality audit".

The Welsh council appears to be at odds with English vice chancellors, however, on the issue of using the proposed new system to monitor academic standards.

The report says HEFCW "would have difficulty in supporting a UK-wide agency which did not address the issue of academic standards and its relationship with quality of provision".

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