A stranglehold on the development of psychology?

At his Distinguished Contributions to the Teaching of Psychology Award Lecture Tony Gale argued that the Society’s accreditation of the psychology degree has hindered the growth of the discipline.

In 1967 rebellious heads of department met at Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair, to protest against the Society’s move towards a national curriculum. The Society wanted to specify not only a curriculum but also the teaching time allocated to every element in it. The heads argued that university departments should maintain their autonomy and decide themselves what and how much they should teach. They believed the bureaucratic tail was seeking to wag the academic dog. But they lost the battle. For many years the Society has accredited the psychology degree and has awarded GBR (the graduate basis for registration) to approved degrees. As the teaching of psychology spread from a handful of old universities to the whole higher education system, heads have found Society accreditation a useful political tool. They have used the threat of withdrawal of accreditation by the Society as a means of securing enhanced facilities for their undergraduate programmes. But my argument is that whatever the advantages of the past, the benefits of GBR are no longer as clear as they were.

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