Problems in Higher Education and Assessment

Arising from the projects on Work-Based Learning, I wrote a number of articles
presenting a radically critical account of issues of assessment and qualifications in
higher education. Three of these, of general interest beyond the historical context in
which they were written, are included for down-loading. Click on attachments at the bottom of this page.
· ‘The Problem with Educational Levels’
(Outlines the confusions surrounding educationalists’ attempts to define any given
course of study in terms of a specific educational ‘level’ that indicates accurately its
‘difficulty’ or ‘advanced-ness’.)
· ‘Education or Grading: Towards a Non-subdivided Honours Degree’
(Places university assessment in historical perspective, arguing that the current
classified honours degree expresses the educational contradictions of a supposedly
‘meritocratic’ social order, where a hierarchy of fixed ability is taken for granted and
competitive grading of all cultural performances is a widespread pastime; and
sketches the advantages of an alternative format based on specified educational
· ‘The University of Life, plc: The “Industrialisation” of Higher Education’
(analyses the problems and opportunities created by the relationship between the
values of universities and those of a society dominated by capitalist commerce and

The following articles (included in the main list of publications) are
also relevant:
1993: ‘The Problem with Educational Levels’ (Part 1)
1994: ‘Work-based Learning and Quality Assurance in Higher Education’
1996: ‘New Liberty, New Discipline: Academic Work in the New Higher
Education’ in Cuthbert, R. (ed.)Working in Higher Education
2000: ‘The ‘Academic’ Qualities of Practice: What are the Criteria for a Practicebased
PhD?’ (with Morwenna Griffths and Kath Green)
2000: ‘A Challenge to Assessment and Quality Assurance in Higher Education’,
in Boud, D. & Solomon, N. (Eds.) Work-Based Learning