Personal and Professional Management Development in English, in France.

Posts made in September, 2009

All is fair….. is it?

By on Sep 5, 2009 in Tonyversity View | 0 comments

Strikes me that fairness is an issue, whether we are talking about yesterday’s announcement of where, upon whom and how heavily the carbon tax (‘non tax’ according to the President?) will ‘fall’ or how a student submitting work later than colleagues may be treated. I recall well enough a discussion with my ‘External Examiners’ at Bournemouth University (for those of a French disposition for whom the term is unknown, ‘External Examiners in the UK system are imposed upon all courses at all levels by the government paymaster: they are other academics and industry representatives who examine all areas of teaching and learning including watching classes, listening to student grievances, speaking to hard-pressed staff and sitting in no little judgment on the final examinations and certificates to be awarded [to ensure that they are ‘in line’ with other such qualifications]. If ‘Externals’ don’t like what they see, they can suggest [ie politely demand] changes to students marks or to course content….) an issue concerning students who had written well over the 10-12000 dissertation or 20,000 – 24,000 thesis word limit. One ‘External’ took a commercial view: ‘they’ve not complied with published limits – if they did that in industry it would be wholly unacceptable – so penalise them severely’, whereas the other suggested that ‘word over-run is its own worst enemy – it is there because the student cannot edit efficiently and is probably merely describing superficially and uncontrollably when he should be analysing and evaluating, so just mark what is there, it will almost certainly be poor anyway, there is no need to add a further penalty’. 1 x ‘simple’ question + 2 x experts = 2 diametrically opposed responses. For the students, however, it is always simpler: ‘He /she had more time / more words than me. I stuck to the limits. He didn’t. He got away with it.’…… Wherever there is a limit, a margin, there is inevitably friction on the borderline. Those closest to the ‘fire’ feel it most acutely. I am not sure we have really caught hold of this in society, whether we are talking about imposition of taxes, availability of subventions and subsidies or the mark given. Perhaps we are happy to take...

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