Macho? No - but Mr Randall has standards

A new verb has entered the lexicon of higher education policy wonks: to "randallise". It comes from "John Randall", chief executive of the Quality Assessment Agency, and means to be macho, or tough. Some people in the universities see Mr Randall as taking them on and trying to get them to pull their socks up. He talks a lot about accountability, for example, and about how higher education needs to explain itself to employers.

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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Nurse and Room Leader - Hackney

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a qualified childcare p...

QAA: Independent member of the QAA Board of Directors

Expenses paid in connection with duties: QAA: QAA is inviting applications to ...

AER Teachers: PPA TEACHER/MENTOR

£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: THE SCHOOL: This is a large and vibra...

AER Teachers: EYFS Teacher

£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: EYFS TEACHERAn 'Outstanding' Primary ...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea