Trouble in store for new quality regime

The Quality Assurance Agency could find itself in conflict with the new Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, a former quality chief has warned, writes Tony Tysome.

In a paper published by the Institute of Education, Roger Brown, principal of Southampton Institute and former chief executive of the Higher Education Quality Council, says: "The same problems of lack of coordination and goodwill which dogged relations between HEQC and the assessment divisions of the funding councils on the enhancement side could recur as between QAA, ILTHE and the other enhancement agencies.

"This seems both sad and ironic given that one of the purposes of creating a new agency was to produce a greater degree of streamlining in the national quality assurance effort."

Mr Brown also said that the new institute may not have enough resources, clout, or support from the sector to act as a lead body and to take on national responsibility for the enhancement of quality.

This may mean that "whereas accountability will have a potentially powerful champion in the QAA, responsibility for enhancement will continue to be diffused, at least at the national level", he said.

The Post-Dearing Agenda for Quality and Standards in Higher Education is available from the Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London, price Pounds 6.95.

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