A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: A thought about teaching and interior architecture
Previous entry: Fraser Nelson on the prize awaiting David Cameron
Friday June 27 2008

Terence Kealey thinks there’s no problem with University exams, no grade inflation.  But here are a couple of recent pieces ...

I’ve been told that if I didn’t give out more firsts to my students then it would reflect badly on me and my teaching, with the unspoken threat of my visiting lecturer contract not being renewed, even though all my observations and assessments by peers and managers have been excellent.

image… that say otherwise.

Prof Geoffrey Alderman, who used to be in charge of safeguarding standards at Britain’s largest university, the University of London, blamed grade inflation on “a league table culture”.

He told The Independent newspaper that lecturers were under pressure to “mark positively” to secure a good position in the tables.

“The more firsts and upper seconds a university awards, the higher a ranking is likely to be,” he said.

“So each university looks closely at the grading criteria used by its league table rivals and - if they are found to be using more lenient grading schemes - the argument is put about that ‘peer’ institutions must do the same.”

This later bit strikes a particularly ominous note:

He said universities were particularly “generous” when they marked non-European Union students, who pay far more in fees.

Both are in the Guardian, with the second quoting something said to the Independent.  It seems that in this argument the free marketeers are defending the status quo, and the lefties are attacking it.  Kealey was responding to all this stuff.

Go here, and you learn about a podcast interview with Professor Alderman, and find a link to Alderman’s own website.

And look what it says there:

In June 2007 Geoffrey joined the University of Buckingham as Michael Gross Professor of Politics & Contemporary History.

So he’s at the very same university that Terence Kealey is the Vice Chancellor of.  Hah!  Alderman doesn’t sound like any kind of lefty.  He favours complete autonomy of universities of the sort they have in the USA, just as Kealey does.  But, he also favours good and honest external examiners.  At present, he says, we have neither.

A complicated argument, pulsating with ironies of all kinds.  But it’s clear who the politicians are inclined to believe.

I can’t find the Independent front page article about what Alderman said which he refers to in that podcast.  It happened while I was abroad, I think.  Link to that, anyone?