Sue Rivers looks at where the external examination system could be improved, in order to reassure public confidence in higher education standards without compromising autonomy.
David Cairns envisages the quality and academic standards landscape that HEFCE wants to create and finds blank spaces and omissions in the new plans as they stand.
The Higher Education Academy’s Annual Conference this week signals its tenth year as the UK’s quality enhancement agency for teaching and learning. The focus of the conference is ‘Preparing for learning futures’ over the next decade. Given significant cuts to the Academy’s budget over the next two years, the conference focus will likely be as much about the HEA’s future as about the learning futures in the title. In this piece, Robin Middlehurst looks at the important challenges now faced by the Academy, sector and Government and presents the key choices that now need to made.
In 2007, The Burgess Review declared the current honours system ‘not fit for purpose’. Designed long ago when a tiny number of institutions were awarding a tiny number of degrees, its use in 2011 looks at best to be a very odd anachronism and at worst; a dangerously out of date and inappropriate way of measuring and awarding student achievement. The summative nature of the honours system is seen as the main offender and no longer appropriate for a modern higher education sector. Despite years of work on this, Professor Burgess was always going to have an uphill struggle convincing people to abandon the system that although flawed, remains familiar to institutions.
In a knowledge management context, higher education and standardisation have a number of similarities. Both a university and a national standards body (NSB) should be seen as vital resources to the national economy; houses of creation for the country’s social knowledge. Economically, their activities bring £59bn (UUK, 2010) and £2.5bn (Swann, 2010) to the UK… read more