Dumb-Down Don's Marking Row Victory; University 'Unfairly Dismissed' Him

Daily Mail (London), February 26, 2010 | Go to article overview

Dumb-Down Don's Marking Row Victory; University 'Unfairly Dismissed' Him


Byline: Laura Clark Education Correspondent

A PROFESSOR who quit in protest at the 'dumbing down' of degrees has won a longrunning legal fight to prove he was forced out of his job.

Paul Buckland failed 18 out of 60 second-year students on an archaeology course at Bournemouth University, believing many of the papers to be 'of poor quality'.

When 16 candidates took a resit, he failed all but two of them.

But senior dons claimed his marking had been too harsh and raised the students' marks by up to 6 per cent, moving several from a 'clear fail' to a 'potential pass' if grades in other areas were high enough.

Professor Buckland argued in the Court of Appeal the over-ruling of his marks amounted to 'an equivocal affront to his integrity' that had left his position untenable.

Judges this week ruled in his favour, finding the university did treat him unfairly.

Professor Buckland's resignation in February 2007 from the department of environmental archaeology provoked a row over academic standards as the Government sought to expand higher education.

Explaining his decision to step down, he said at the time: 'If you don't make a stand somewhere, you might as well start selling the degrees on eBay because that's all they'll be worth.' He said the re-marking was 'part of a much larger process of dumbing down' that made a 'complete mockery of the examination process'. An employment tribunal backed his claim that he had been constructively dismissed, finding it 'extraordinary' the papers were re-marked. …

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