In our latest interview for the blog, LSE Assistant Registrar Mark Thomson, who heads the School’s Teaching Quality Assurance and Review Office and is the primary contact for all quality assurance activity at LSE, speaks about the evolution of quality assurance processes and the challenge of balancing the demands of the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) with the strong tradition of departmental independence at LSE.
First of all, Mark, how has the quality assurance landscape changed over recent years?
I suppose the sound bite is “the landscape is stabilising after a long period of instability and uncertainty”. The story begins in the bad old days of Subject Review, a deeply invasive process that soured relationships between the QAA and institutions. This led to the Academic Board voting in 2001 to secede from the QAA. Under the Higher Education Act it couldn’t legally do this, of course, but the point was clear and attracted a lot of media attention at the time, and led the QAA to review its activity.
The QAA’s approach receded from the high watermark of Subject Review into Institutional Audit, which was a much more process-driven approach to quality assurance. That worked much better for the School, because it allowed for some flexibility for institutions like LSE to choose which sections of the infrastructure it was going to use.
Then there was the great conflagration of 2008 when there were lots of lurid media Continue reading