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National Frameworks of Qualifications, and the UK Experience Dr Robin Humphrey Director of Research Postgraduate Training Faculty of Humanities and Social.

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Presentation on theme: "National Frameworks of Qualifications, and the UK Experience Dr Robin Humphrey Director of Research Postgraduate Training Faculty of Humanities and Social."— Presentation transcript:

1 National Frameworks of Qualifications, and the UK Experience Dr Robin Humphrey Director of Research Postgraduate Training Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Newcastle University, UK EUROPOS SĄJUNGA Europos socialinis fondas MYKOLO ROMERIO UNIVERSITETAS

2 Quality assurance and national frameworks of qualifications Development and use of explicit criteria and process for quality assurance which are open to external scrutiny Majority of Bologna countries have quality assurance bodies linked to higher education

3 The Need for Quality Assurance ‘The Quality of higher education … at the heart of setting up a European Higher Education Area. Ministers commit themselves to supporting further development of quality assurance at institutional, national and European level. They stress the need to develop mutually shared criteria and methodologies on quality assurance’ (Berlin Communiqué, 2003)

4 Responsibility for Quality Assurance ‘Consistent with the principle of institutional autonomy, the primary responsibility for quality assurance in higher education lies with each institution itself and this provides the basis for real accountability of the academic system within the national quality framework’ (Berlin Communiqué, 2003) Main_doc/030919Berlin_Communique.PDF

5 Principles for quality assurance Underpinning Quality Assurance irrespective of various national approaches although national approaches need to reflect local context and culture in detail of application

6 National Quality Frameworks: Four minimum criteria Definition of responsibilities of bodies and institutions involved Evaluation of programmes or institutions, including internal assessment, external review, participation of students and publication of results System of accreditation, certification and comparable procedures International participation, co-operation and networking

7 Trends in National Approaches to Quality Assurance Significant differences in approaches but:  All systems include element of ‘externality’, by external inspectors or academic peers  Increasing input of students  Increasing input of other stakeholders (eg employers, professional associations)

8 The UK Context: The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) Established 1997, to provide an integrated quality assurance service for UK higher education. Independent body, funded by subscriptions from universities, and through contracts with the main higher education funding bodies. Governed by a Board, which has overall responsibility for conduct and strategic direction of our business.

9 QAA: Responsibilites Each university is responsible for ensuring that appropriate standards are being achieved and a good quality education is being offered. QAA’s responsibility to safeguard the public interest in sound standards of higher education qualifications, and to encourage continuous improvement in the management of the quality of higher education. Achieve this by reviewing standards and quality, and providing reference points that help to define clear and explicit standards.

10 QAA: Reviewing Standards and Quality Academic standards: Way of describing the level of achievement that a student has to reach to gain an academic award (for example, a degree). They should be at a similar level across the UK (but, in practice, great variation). Academic quality: Way of describing how well the learning opportunities available to students help them to achieve their award. It is about making sure that appropriate and effective teaching, support, assessment and learning opportunities are provided for them. QAA use peer review processes where teams of academics conduct audits and reviews, called Institutional Audit.

11 QAA: Institutional Audit (England) 1 aims to ensure that institutions are providing higher education, awards and qualifications of an acceptable quality and an appropriate academic standard; and exercising their legal powers to award degrees in a proper manner. Handbook for Institutional Audit: Outcome published on QAA’s website  Overview of findings; executive summary (public consumption)  Report, 10-20 pages  Annex; detail of systems, Evidence and reasons for conclusions (For institution, but publicly available)

12 QAA: Institutional Audit (England) 2 Developed out of Subject Reviews Now looks at systems to manage quality enhancement Audit team: 4 Academics + senior administrator (Audit secretary) Mainly document-based; 5 days, 4-5 90 minute meetings

13 QAA: Defining clear and explicit standards Help to define clear and explicit standards for public information and as reference points for review activities. Work with the higher education sector and other stakeholders to develop: Frameworks for higher education qualifications to promote a clearer understanding of the achievements and attributes represented by the main qualification titles, such as a master's degree.

14 The UK Context: Towards a benchmarking of ‘M’ness Statement on benchmarking M Level under development by QAA Issues about developing a generic statement Subject communities to develop own M level statements

15 Why benchmark? Capture essence of M Level award Useful for those involved in programme design, approval and delivery at masters level Helpful for institutional audit, by QAA Important for inclusion in the Bologna Process

16 Subject Benchmark Statements Sets out expectations about standards of degrees Describe what gives a discipline its coherence and identity Define what can be expected of a graduate in terms of the abilities and skills needed to develop understanding in the subject. Intended to assist those involved in programme design, delivery and review. May also be of interest to prospective students and employers, seeking information about the nature and standards of awards in a subject area. QAA published subject benchmark statements for a range of disciplines to clearly set out the academic characteristics and standards of UK programmes. (4 so far, including Business Management)

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