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What can be learnt from subject review?

Roger Ottewill (Centre for Learning and Teaching, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK)

Quality Assurance in Education

ISSN: 0968-4883

Article publication date: 1 September 2005




To consider the shortcomings and strengths of the subject review process with a view to identifying criteria that might be used to assess the value of externally administered quality assurance processes in higher education.


Use is made of material from a variety of secondary sources blended with personal reflections on the experience gained from undertaking a project for LTSN BEST (Business Education Support Team), the aim of which was to establish what could be learned from the content of the 164 subject review reports for business and management issued during 2000/2001.


Much of the evidence indicates that subject review generated strong negative feelings on the part of many in higher education. However, while critics tended to make the running, there was an alternative point of view that was expressed a little more circumspectly.

Practical implications

In shaping the quality assurance processes of the future, due account should be taken not only of the concerns of those who criticised subject review but also of the stance of its defenders.


With the issue of quality remaining high on the higher education agenda, appraisals of past practice have an important part to play in guiding the way forward.



Ottewill, R. (2005), "What can be learnt from subject review?", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 219-226.



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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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