Magazine article Times Higher Education


Magazine article Times Higher Education


Article excerpt

International quality assured

Your report on a paper I delivered at the 11th European Quality Assurance Forum questioned the value of quality assurance guidelines for transnational education ("Quality assurance guidelines for TNE are 'useless'", News, 24 November).

In fact, international and national guidelines for the quality assurance of TNE are very useful indeed. It is their implementation at a global level that is challenging without strengthened cooperation. The Unesco/OECD Guidelines for Quality Provision in Cross-border Higher Education, for example, have played a crucial role in raising awareness about cooperation between nations to "protect students from low-quality provision and disreputable providers".

Since then, different initiatives have sought to respond to Unesco/OECD's call to collaborate, including a successful project led by the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education that produced a toolkit on the ways quality agencies might enhance cooperation across borders.

Closer to home, and on behalf of the UK higher education funding bodies, the Quality Assurance Agency is consulting on a new review process for TNE. Continuing to evolve and improve our own approach to TNE is crucial, ensuring that it remains fit for purpose as the importance of this type of provision continues to grow.

Fabrizio Trifirò

International adviser Quality Assurance Agency

In good time

The editors of the EMBO Journal were glad to be able to publish Enrique Martin-Blanco's paper ("Academic criticises reviewers after five-year delay to paper", News, 1 December). The process was, in our view, efficient, including a single round of revision. All the details are documented in the transparent process review file that we publish with most papers.

In our experience, for data and approaches that raise discussion among experts, the EMBO Press cross-referee commenting process works well: all referees see each other's reports before a decision is made and often comment on specific issues on which they agree or disagree, allowing the editors to make a more nuanced and informed decision. Where appropriate, we also approach the authors before an editorial decision is made to take into account their views on the referee reports.

Bernd Pulverer

Chief editor, EMBO Journal

Mexican vista

Writing from another Centre of Advanced Research in Mexico City, I share with Carolina Guzmán-Valenzuela the preoccupation of how to strengthen science in Latin America ("Turning the ship around", BRICS & Emerging Economies 2017, 1 December). Guzmán-Valenzuela is right to point out the low investment in research and development in the region; one should also examine the political decision-making over resource allocations.

However, the usefulness of consulting rankings or publishing in leading journals is questionable. Take, for instance, the National Autonomous University of Mexico. UNAM has numerous institutes conducting high-level research. When I compare UNAM's ranking with that of a UK institution that I have worked at, I can hardly contain my incredulity.

Likewise, publishing in leading journals should be looked at with caution. Not only is there a language barrier in terms of English being the standard for scientific papers, there are also very few prestigious publishers that do not have close ties and partnerships with industries, governments and institutions, none of which are from Latin America.

Brazil benefited from public investment in science, and the results were spectacular. …

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