Academic Quality Procedures Handbook

1. Management of Learning and Teaching

1.1 The methodologies used as a basis to improve the student academic experience and to ensure that student outcomes are robust and appropriate

1.    Introduction

The University operates several processes by which we monitor, review and gain feedback on the quality of learning opportunities and the standards of our awards. They encompass the following internal methodologies:

  • Internal Governance
  • Programme Design and Review
  • External Examining
  • Annual Programme Review and Quadrennial Review

 In addition, we benefit from the following external methodologies, as detailed in section 4:

 HEFCE Annual Provider Review and the Teaching Excellence Framework QAA Quality Code for HE

  • National Qualification and Credit Frameworks
  • External surveys: National Student Survey, Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey, Student Barometer
  • Accreditation by Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies

 

2.    Internal Methodologies

2.1 Internal Governance

Our internal governance structures ensure appropriate strategic and operational oversight of the quality and standards of our provision. Key features are:

  • Council, the governing body of the University which has oversight of all aspects its work, its finances and its strategic direction, subject to advice on academic matters from the Senate. Council regularly receives reports on the student experience, including: KPIs, reports from the PVC(T),  LSU Annual Report, updates on the University Strategy, and Quadrennial Review reports.
  • Senate, responsible for the academic work of the University, including strategy for teaching, research and enterprise and decisions relating to the application of the University’s degree awarding powers.
  • Learning and Teaching Committee (LTC), a sub-committee of Senate, chaired by the PVC Teaching, which advises Senate on learning and teaching strategy and policy matters.  It also oversees arrangements for managing academic standards and assuring the quality of taught students' learning opportunities.
  • The Academic Quality Procedures Handbook (AQPH), which acts as a central source of information for policies and procedures which support the University in its aim to assure the quality and standards of its learning, teaching and supervision.
  • The University Calendar, which contains general information about the University, its structure and the rules and principles behind its founding and operation, as set out in the University Ordinances, University Regulations and University Charter and Statutes.
  • The Academic Leadership Team, comprised of the Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, three Pro Vice-Chancellors, the Chief Operating Officer, Director of Finance, Director of Planning and the Deans of Schools.
  • School Senior Management Teams, comprised of the Dean of School, Associate Deans, Operations Managers, and Heads of Department (if applicable).  Within each School, the roles of the Associate Dean (Teaching), Director of Studies, Programme Directors and Module Leaders are key to ensuring effective oversight of taught provision.
  • The Programme Quality and Teaching Partnerships office, within the Academic Registry, which plays a key role in programme administration and the development and maintenance of quality procedures for taught awards.
  • Students, who are a key partner in all our processes.  This includes the involvement of the Students’ Union Executive, Programme Presidents and Programme Presidents, and all students who provide valuable feedback on their academic experiences.

  

2.2  Programme Design and Review

The content and design of both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes is under constant review at School level in the light of subject developments and changes in the external and internal environment.

The views of external examiners, professional and accrediting bodies, companies providing industrial training placements and employers of the University's graduates, as well as the views of students, are all taken into account. Routine evaluation of programmes is central to the assurance and enhancement of quality in learning and teaching. This evaluation should both be an ongoing process of review and evaluation throughout the academic year, and encompass a more formal periodic engagement with the LTC-led processes of Annual Programme Review and Quadrennial Review.

 

2.3 External Examining

The University recognises the fundamental importance of external examining to maintaining academic standards and assuring and enhancing academic quality. Accordingly, external examiners are appointed to all provision that leads to a Loughborough University award.The roles and responsibilities of external examiners are set out in the relevant Code of Practice.

The purposes of the external examiner system are to ensure that the standards set for taught undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, awarded in similar subjects:

  • are appropriate for the awards, or award elements, by reference to published national subject benchmarks, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, institutional programme specifications and other relevant information
  • are comparable in standard in all Universities in the UK

They are also appointed to ensure that the assessment system is fair and is fairly operated in the classification of students.

External examiners annually submit a report to the University, which is overseen by LTC in Annual Programme Review and Quadrennial Review.

 

2.4 Annual Programme Review and Quadrennial Review

Annual Programme Review (APR) is the process by which LTC undertakes a review of programme quality and standards across all taught provision, on a School-by-School basis.  All Schools are subject to APR each year, except for Schools subject to Quadrennial Review (QR), in which case APR is incorporated into that review in the form of a Learning and Teaching Workstream.

APR consists of:

- The central preparation of a data set by November each year.  This includes both statistical and qualitative data relating to: 

  • recruitment (XTariff; undergraduate and postgraduate applications, firm acceptances and intake; market overview reports)
  • progression (undergraduate pass rates, “good degrees” and withdrawals; postgraduate degrees awarded and withdrawals)
  • first destinations of graduates
  • placements and mobility
  • minutes of Staff-Student Liaison Committees
  • external examiners’ reports
  • external accreditation
  • student surveys (NSS, PTES, Student Barometer).

 

- A School-led evaluation of the data set, resulting in the production of a self-evaluation document

- A meeting in January / February between an LTC panel and the School to discuss the data and self-evaluation.  The panel is comprised of the PVC(T), Students’ Union Education Executive Officer, the Head of PQTP, and a member of the Centre for Academic Practice. Present from the School are senior School staff (including the Dean of School and School AD(T)), as well as Programme Presidents for the School.

- The production of an action plan, which is received and monitored by LTC. This ensures that Schools and the University are best placed to identify strategic priorities in regard to standards and quality and are in a position to set an investment strategy to achieve these.

The process for the QR Learning and Teaching Workstream is largely the same, except that the data reviewed is more extensive (including HESA benchmarking reports incorporating entry, achievement and employability data for taught students), there are several meetings with staff and students over a day, and the involvement of a panel member who is external to the University.

The results of the national Student Survey and the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey are discussed at separate meetings with Schools each September and result in separate action plans.  The outcomes of this process is reviewed and monitored during APR and QR.

With due regard to the expectations of the UK Quality Code (in particular Part A and Chapter B8), the APR and QR are designed to: 

  • allow the University to confirm that the portfolio aligns with its mission and strategic priorities
  • be informed by a view of trends over time (reviewing what has gone, but also looking into the future, mindful of sector changes)
  • ensure that the provision has made, and continues to make, available to students appropriate learning opportunities which enable the intended learning outcomes of the programme to be achieved
  • draw on expertise from those outside the programme, staff within the institution (but external to the School), and data such as external examiner reports and accreditation reports
  • involve students (on the panel and via the use of feedback from students in the review)
  • re-affirm that the UK threshold academic standards, and the University’s own academic standards, continue to be met
  • re-affirm that the expectations of the UK Quality Code for Higher Education continue to be met.