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Defining and measuring academic standards: A British perspective


  • Geoffrey Alderman


Historically, the definition and measurement of academic standards in British higher education have been the exclusive prerogative of the academic community. The calibration of standards across institutions was the responsibility and purpose of the external-examiner system. But the mechanisms in place to achieve these ends have broken down under the weight of the massification of UK higher education, the need to recruit international students to sustain revenue streams, and the league-table or rankings culture that has resulted in academic standards being sacrificed in order to maintain or improve institutional image. In 2008 the House of Commons inaugurated a wide-ranging inquiry into these matters. Its August 2009 report proposes radical solutions, the adoption of which will represent a definitive break with the traditions of the past.Définition des critères de qualité et évaluation des performances universitaires : Une perspective britanniqueTraditionnellement, la définition des critères de qualité et l’évaluation des performances universitaires dans l’enseignement supérieur britannique étaient la prérogative exclusive de la communauté universitaire. L’étalonnage des critères de qualité dans l’ensemble des établissements relevait de la responsabilité du système d’examinateurs externes dont c’était l’objectif. Cependant, les mécanismes mis en place à cette fin se sont effondrés sous le poids de la massification de l’enseignement supérieur britannique, la nécessité de recruter des étudiants internationaux pour maintenir les flux de revenus, et la culture des classements qui a conduit au sacrifice de la qualité afin de préserver ou d’améliorer une image institutionnelle. En 2008, la Chambre des Communes a inauguré une vaste enquête sur ces questions. Son rapport d’août 2009 propose des solutions radicales, dont l’adoption constituera une rupture définitive avec les traditions du passé.

Suggested Citation

  • Geoffrey Alderman, 2009. "Defining and measuring academic standards: A British perspective," Higher Education Management and Policy, OECD Publishing, vol. 21(3), pages 1-14.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:edukaa:5ksf24ssz1wc

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