Macho? No - but Mr Randall has standards
Thursday 04 June 1998
Not all academics care for such talk. At a consultation meeting in Glasgow in April Mr Randall came across as pretty authoritarian, according to Peter Breeze, a member of Association of University Teachers executive. "You got the impression that everything was there for institutional managers and students and that the academics should do what they were told to satisfy one group and do the bidding of the other," says Breeze.
John Randall himself, formerly director of professional standards at the Law Society, laughs at the notion that he is doing to academics what Chris Woodhead , the tough speaking and controversial Chief Inspector of Schools does to teachers he thinks aren't up to it.
"The only thing that Chris Woodhead and I have in common is that we went to the same secondary school 30 years ago," he says. "There's an important difference between what Chris Woodhead and I are doing. He is working within a structure of a national curriculum, so it's relatively easy to make judgements about whether schools are succeeding in getting their pupils to the standards laid down. We don't have a national curriculum in higher education, nor should we. There's a huge amount of diversity and a lot of the teaching is driven by research, so it will differ from institution to institution. That means you have to define quite carefully what you're trying to look at."
John Randall comes from a different world from most academics. Intelligent and forthright, he was a member of the National Council for Vocational Qualifications for five years and in his early career was president of the National Union of Students.When he arrived at the QAA a number of prominent officials left. But he knows when to compromise, and has been quick to put his finger up to the wind. Hence his agency's speed in switching the emphasis from more central control to less. "I am concerned to establish a workable consensus that allows a proper balance to be struck between processes of peer review in institutions within an overall framework in which the public and all stakeholders can have confidence," he says.
Not all academics are critical. Phil Jones, dean of law at Sheffield University, who had dealings with Randall when he was at the Law Society, claims that he has won the respect of vice-chancellors around the country for the way he has been prepared to meet and talk to them and modify his proposals in the light of their comments.
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 3 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 4 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a qualified childcare p...
Expenses paid in connection with duties: QAA: QAA is inviting applications to ...
£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: THE SCHOOL: This is a large and vibra...
£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: EYFS TEACHERAn 'Outstanding' Primary ...