Whistleblowers: College puts gloss on visit from inspector

June 28, 2002

When The THES reported that lecturers at the private European School of Economics in London were having to teach students without many basic facilities and were facing regular battles just to get their salaries paid, the school's degree-awarding partner, Nottingham Trent University, was quick to offer reassurance.

"We have raised all relevant matters with ESE and have been assured that they are being addressed appropriately," said a spokesman for the university, which validates the ESE's degrees and must ensure the school's degree certificates are worthy of the Nottingham Trent name.

But further documents have come to light since the report earlier this month. They suggest that the university may not be getting the most complete picture of campus life at the ESE when it conducts its validation reviews.

In May last year, in anticipation of an inspection of ESE campuses by NottinghamTrent's academic adviser to the school, Robert Graves, Serena Bergoli, the assistant to director Elizabeth Mitchell, sent out some guidance to ESE staff who might encounter Dr Graves during his visit.

She explained that Dr Graves would be meeting some of the ESE's "instructors" - "so please try to find one or two instructors with something positive to show".

Ms Bergoli also warned that "at some campuses, meetings have been organised with students. Before these meetings, you should explain Dr Graves's role to both instructors and students so as to avoid the expression of resentment and dissatisfaction. Complaints about the ESE should be made to the staff internally, and not to an external assessor."

An Nottingham Trent spokeswoman said: "We have put a comprehensive quality assurance framework in place [at ESE] that includes: three-yearly progress review visits; the appointment of external examiners; at least one annual visit from academic verifiers from Nottingham Trent; and an annual monitoring report.

"In addition, the university has instigated a number of specific initiatives designed to help ESE to develop their infrastructure, QA systems and student tracking systems. These initiatives are subject to regular assessment and any issues brought to our attention are raised with the ESE during these assessments."

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