Insights/Case studies/Newsroom/CareersCareersCareersPartnersConsultantsTechnology innovationCorporateEarly careersSearch Jobs/About us/Contact us Global locations

  • Phone
  • Contact us
  • Locations
  • Search
  • Menu


  • Add this article to your LinkedIn page
  • Add this article to your Twitter feed
  • Email this article
View or print a PDF of this page

“The perverse use of learning outcomes as instruments of performance management is a classic example of the bureaucratisation of good intentions.”



Immeasurable outcomes

Mike Boxall

Times Higher Education

13 December 2012


Letter to the editor

The perverse use of learning outcomes as instruments of performance management is a classic example of the "bureaucratisation of good intentions", about which PA Consulting Group wrote in THE's pages last year ("Misaligned targets", Opinion, 9 June 2011). As Phil Baty observes ("Restate the statements of intent", Leader, 29 November), the original intentions of Robert Barr and John Tagg were eminently laudable and are, if anything, even more pertinent today, when the value and benefits of higher education in the era of higher fees are the subject of rigorous debate.

The fault lies not with the ambition of explicit learning outcomes but with clumsy attempts to codify and measure the results of essentially personal educational experiences. The issue is not, as Frank Furedi would have it, about holding academics and institutions to account but being clear about what higher education is for. You do not have to buy into the consumerist view of education to justify the need for clarity about what students should expect from investing three years and more than £27,000 in a university education.

Rather than abandoning this ambition, we should take a more imaginative approach towards articulating such expectations within the student-teacher deal.


Mike Boxall, higher education expert, PA Consulting Group

To visit PA's education pages, please click here or contact us now

Corporate headquarters
123 Buckingham Palace Road
London SW1W 9SR London SW1W 9SR
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 20 7333 5865 Tel: +44 20 7333 5865
contact us now


Sign-up to receive company updates and press releases by email or newsfeed:



By using this website, you accept the use of cookies. For more information on how to manage cookies, please read our privacy policy.