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Professor ‘unfairly treated’ after refusing to ‘dumb down’

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A university professor who resigned after refusing to alter the marks of pupils he felt were below acceptable standards was treated unfairly, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Archaeology Professor, Paul Buckland, had been teaching and marking exams for more than 25 years when he failed 18 out of 60 pupils in his Bournemouth University class, critical of pupils’ “poor quality” work.

After many students failed their resits, Mr Buckland was accused of being too harsh by senior dons at Bournemouth and his marks were overruled from “clear fail” to “potential pass” by an independent marker with no expert knowledge of the subject.

In 2007, the professor resigned in protest to what he thought was the “dumbing down” of academic work and a “mockery of the examination system”, launching a lengthy legal battle against his employers.

An employment tribunal ruled that Professor Buckland was constructively dismissed but the decision was overturned last March by the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

However, this week’s support from the Court of Appeal means Professor Buckland is likely to receive compensation from Bournemouth University, after the court ruled that his status as an academic was undermined and the “inexorable outcome” was that he was constructively dismissed.

Speaking after the case, Professor Buckland said: “The verdict restores the right of individual academics to return marks within the subject in which they are acknowledged experts.”

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Written by Andrew Hodges

March 1, 2010 at 11:22 am

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with , ,

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