The funding bodies for higher education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as part of their statutory responsibilities, are consulting on a new approach to quality assessment to meet the future needs of students, employers and the sector.
The consultation sets out proposals for a quality assessment system that secures an excellent student academic experience and maintains confidence in degree standards. The proposals recognise the increasing diversity and dynamism of the sector, uphold its outstanding international reputation, and seek to foster excellence and innovation in learning and teaching in the particular context of individual universities and colleges.
The consultation marks the second stage of a review of quality assessment which began earlier this year with a wide-ranging discussion with the sector and other stakeholders.
The proposals build on three key elements of arrangements already in place:
A shift from process-driven assurance to analysis of student academic outcomes. A number of respondents to the first phase of the review wished to see this shift. It builds on existing institutional activity to drive excellence and innovation in learning and teaching in the context of an institution’s own mission, location and modes of delivery, and the nature of their student body.
Strengthening the existing external examining system to protect the integrity of academic standards. There was strong support in the first phase of the review for the external examining system, but recognition of the need for further modernisation and professionalisation.
An enhanced role for universities’ and colleges’ own assurance systems. Governing bodies would confirm that their senates or academic boards were reviewing the quality of their students’ academic experience and (for institutions with degree awarding powers) academic output standards, and provide assurance that there were appropriate action plans in place where necessary.