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UK Quality Framework OU and ARCs

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1 UK Quality Framework OU and ARCs
Diana Stammers, Head of Quality December 2014

2 Coming up … UK quality assurance framework
Quality Assurance Agency for HE (QAA) HE Review of OU, December 2015 UK Quality Code for HE

3 Academic quality and standards – what do we mean?
Academic standards: the level of achievement that a student has to reach to gain an academic award (skills and knowledge base expected of students for a particular subject area at a particular level). Academic quality describes how well the opportunities provided for students help them to achieve their award; making sure that appropriate and effective learning/programme design, teaching, supervision, other support, assessment and resources are provided. (Also known as “quality of learning opportunities”; “quality of student learning experience” etc.)

4 Quality and The Open University
The OU operates within same UK frameworks for quality and academic standards as other HE institutions awarding degrees Academic standards and attainment by students must be equivalent to that of whole higher education sector Quality management audited by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education - external peer review, used for all universities The OU is accredited by the US Middle States Commission on HE – accreditation reapproved in 2010

5 QAA HE Review – what is it?
QAA’s principle review method for universities and colleges Aim is to inform students and the wider public if a provider meets UK Expectations for: setting and maintenance of academic standards provision of learning opportunities provision of information enhancement of the quality of learning opportunities providing accountability + encouraging improvement

6 Scope All provision leading to OU qualifications or credit at FHEQ levels 4 to 8 (+ Scottish equivalent) Taught provision and research degrees Direct provision and provision delivered with third party

7 Key elements Peer review
Involvement of students (reviewer, lead rep, meetings) Management of standards, quality, information, enhancement Evidence-based – self-evaluation document supported by documentary evidence Built entirely around the UK Quality Code for HE Reference to (benchmarked) data Core and theme Review team – academics, student, may include professional support staff member and international observer/reviewer

8 Outcome 7 March 2016 QAA publish Report
9 May OU publishes action plan on its public website Report, includes: Judgements Features of good practice Affirmations of current action Recommendations for action -with deadlines Commentary on a selected theme This is where process is heading

9 Outcome Four judgements on:
setting and maintenance of academic standards meets / does not meet UK Expectations quality of learning opportunities information about learning opportunities enhancement of students’ learning opportunities commended meets requires improvement to meet does not meet UK Expectations Can be differentiated judgements for different provision UK Expectations – as defined by Quality Code requires improvement to meet /does not meet – both considered unsatisfactory Definitions: information about learning opportunities – general public, prospective and current students, staff. Fit for purpose, accessible and trustworthy. Before that ….

10 Review Visit 9 Nov OU finds out duration; lines of enquiry; who team wishes to meet, including partners; visit timetable; further document requests (incl audit trails) 7 Dec Review visit meetings start Staff (including VC; ALs) Staff from partner links Students: OUSA reps; other students incl students at partners; possibly alumni Possibly external examiners, employers Team interrogate documentation further - triangulation Final day reach judgements – team spend with QAA Review Manager Duration will be a week (contingency to extend) Video/tele conference with partners

11 QAA HE Review of OU, December 2015 – ARC involvement
Self-evaluation document (February-May 2015) Student “mini-submission”? Possible visit meetings – senior staff, supervisors, students; video or tele-conference 9 Nov 15 Find out who team wants to meet 7 Dec 15 Week of review visit Letter to be sent shortly

12 UK Quality Code for HE Published by QAA
First section October 2011; last sections October 2013 Phased in for QAA reviews; all in use from August 2014 Three parts: academic standards; academic quality; published information Expectation per chapter; indicators of sound practice; explanatory text 10.30

13 QAA UK Quality Code for HE
Part A: Setting and maintaining academic standards Covers: A1: UK and European reference points for academic standards A2: Degree-awarding bodies' reference points for academic standards A3: Securing academic standards and an outcomes-based approach to academic awards To give you a sense of how the chapters most relevant to you fit into the Quality Code ….

14 QAA UK Quality Code for HE
Part B: Assuring and enhancing academic quality   B1: Programme design, development and approval B2: Recruitment, selection and admission to HE B3: Learning and teaching B4: Enabling student development and achievement B5: Student engagement B6: Assessment of students and recognition of prior learning B7: External examining B8: Programme monitoring and review B9: Academic appeals and complaints B10: Managing higher education provision with others B11: Research degrees

15 QAA UK Quality Code for HE
Part C: Information about higher education provision Information about the higher education provider Information for prospective students Information for current students Information for students on completion of their studies Information for assuring quality and standards

16 B10 Managing HE with others
Responsibility for academic standards of awards cannot be delegated by the degree awarding organisation - OU needs to ensure equivalent academic standards (covered in Quality Code Part A) Overall responsibility for academic quality with the degree awarding organisation but delivery is shared - OU to ensure equivalence of opportunities Processes for assuring quality and academic standards, at least as rigorous as for direct provision, e.g.: Approval, monitoring & review (partnership; programmes; information) Use of management information, student feedback External examiners and other external input Due diligence (regular), written agreements Risk-based approach OU role

17 B11 Research Degrees Environment for success, quality of support
Consistency while recognising diversity amongst students Clear and available regulations, codes of practice, procedures Robust, fair and transparent selection Clear entitlements and responsibilities of students Supervisor skills, time, development and responsibilities Research, personal, professional skills development - aligned with Researcher Development Framework; reviewed regularly Robust progress monitoring, review, and assessment Evaluation and action – MI, feedback, representation Records Communication and accessibility of information Largely ARC role; OU doing some bits but largely oversight role (see B10)

18 OU and ARC Quality Code mappings
Evaluating alignment with Expectation and Indicators Planning actions for improvement Refreshing mappings after action Aware that ARCs have been working hard to align research degree arrangements with the new Chapter and respond to similar changes in the OU e.g. supervision policy – where need to ensure equivalence of opportunities for students. Good news for HE Review.

19 A reflective approach to quality: 6 quality questions
What are you trying to do? PURPOSES Why are you doing it? REASON How are you going to do it? METHOD Why is that the best way to do it? OPTIMISATION How do you know it works? EFFECTIVENESS How can you improve it? ENHANCEMENT Why are we doing this? To help students achieve research goals Quality Code is used as a reference point to help with question 4 and 6. How can you improve it – by sharing and drawing on successful practice …. Next session!

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