Students and Universities - Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee Contents

Report to the Select Committee from Manchester Metropolitan University

  This is a brief description of the University's position in respect of the submission made by Mr Cairns.


  1.  Academic Board is the most senior deliberative committee of the University, charged with maintaining the academic quality and standards of all of the University's provision. The Board approves academic policies and processes and throughout each academic session, considers a wide range of information relating to the setting and maintenance of academic standards. As a member of the Board Mr Cairns has been party to the University's confirmation that academic standards are being maintained, throughout his two membership periods, 2000-03 and 2007-09. During this latter membership period he has not seen fit to raise within the Board for discussion and action as appropriate, the matters which he has placed in the public domain via media articles and interviews, during recent weeks.

2.  It was under the auspices of the Academic Board that changes were made to assessment following the extremely high failure rates in three successive years on the module taught by Mr Cairns, which formed the basis of his submission to the Select Committee. Investigations into the matter were undertaken in 2004, 2005 and finally in 2006, when a Panel, Chaired by the then Deputy Vice-Chancellor, acting as a sub-group of the Academic Board, was constituted at the request of the Chair of the Academic Board. The Panel's very thorough investigation made its report to the Chair of the Academic Board in October 2006. The report recommended a range of remedial actions which were put in place. All the changes to the assessment outcomes were approved by all of the External Examiners. You may also wish to note that the unit concerned is being discontinued, after this academic session, following a major review of provision in the area.

  3.  A brief summary of the chronology of issues and actions is attached for information, as Appendix 1.[390] A summary version of the 2006 Report of the Panel, Chaired by the then Deputy Vice-Chancellor is attached as Appendix 2.[391] You will note both the thoroughness of the Panel's review and the balanced nature of its report, which is at pains to demonstrate fairness and address the complainant's concerns. Also attached as Appendix 3[392] is a brief statement of the University's quality and assurance procedures and standards which are robust and carefully considered.

April 2007

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