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Tie up the watchdogs, say lecturers

"Over-inspected" lecturers in university education departments have called on the Government to rein in its regulators.

The Association of University Teachers says teacher training should come under the remit of the new General Teaching Council - not the Teacher Training Agency.

And it fears that new powers for the Office for Standards in Education to inspect teacher-training courses could erode academic freedom and the traditional autonomy of universities.

The AUT's annual policy-making council met this week amid distrust of Government plans to regulate the sector and disappointment over what the union called a "lousy pay deal" of 3.8 per cent phased over the year.

Regulation of education departments is a particular thorn in the side of a union which is concerned about academic freedom in all departments - as the Government prepares to set up the new Quality Assurance Agency. The AUT fears the QAA could enforce a national curriculum for higher education.

But education departments are already regulated in a way that the rest of higher education is not.

An angry David Triesman, AUT general secretary, was expected to tell the conference in Worthing that the "bureaucrats who drive the paper mills of the quality industry" should "give back the baton".

"You have proved you can fell forests, pulp paper, trash teachers, revile researchers and supplement stress - to no purpose. Give back the professional judgements to a successful profession."

Paul Cottrell, the AUT's assistant general secretary, said education departments felt "over-inspected and over-quality assured," with OFSTED, the research assessment exercise, QAA and internal audits all adding a burden.

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