QAA review U-turn is music to for-profit’s ears

Watchdog backs down after institutional appeal for second time

July 4, 2013

A London music school has become the second higher education institution to appeal successfully against a full Quality Assurance Agency review.

The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance, a for-profit provider founded in the 1980s, underwent its first full institutional review last year. However, the QAA has set aside the report after the school appealed against its findings.

A new inspection will now take place with alternative reviewers.

In May, it emerged that the University of Southampton had successfully challenged its most recent institutional review.

No reasons have been given for either appeal, but institutions are entitled to a fresh review if the QAA finds a “deficiency of process” or a “perversity of judgement”, according to its complaints code.

The latest challenge against the QAA was “worrying” because it raised doubts about the competency of review teams and the soundness of procedures, said Roger Brown, professor of higher education policy at Liverpool Hope University.

“The QAA is there to monitor other people’s procedures, so its own must be totally watertight,” Professor Brown said.

“But as it is involved in so many different types of review, the odd slip is perhaps inevitable.”

The success of Southampton and the music college may pave the way for others to challenge QAA decisions, argued Geoffrey Alderman, professor of politics and history at the University of Buckingham and former head of the University of London’s academic council.

“Many more institutions that do not like the outcome of their review will now be reaching for the nearest lawyer,” Professor Alderman said, adding that financial compensation may become increasingly pertinent.

The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance and the QAA issued a joint statement on the ruling, saying the appeal had been upheld.  

“The scope, nature and date of the new review have yet to be determined,” it adds. “Further information regarding the appeal panel decision will be published when the new…report is available.”

jack.grove@tsleducation.com

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