Professor Paul Buckland who quit in protest at the ‘dumbing down’ of degrees has won a long-running legal fight to prove he was forced out of his job.
In 2007 Professor 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 re-sit, 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 took his case to the Court of Appeal, which in February 2010 ruled the university’s undermining of his status was indefensible and the ‘inexorable outcome’ was that he had been constructively dismissed unfairly.
Responding to the ruling, Professor Buckland said: ‘The verdict restores the right of individual academics to return marks within the subject in which they are acknowledged experts.’ He is now likely to receive compensation from Bournemouth.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, to which Professor Buckland belongs, said: ‘This is an important victory for everyone who values high standards and probity in our universities. However, we are deeply concerned about the events that led to this tribunal. Staff need the confidence to be forthright and honest in their comments and assessment of work.’