Quality and standards
Quality management describes the processes by which we assure that our standards are maintained and the quality of education experienced by our students is maintained and enhanced.
The Quality Assurance Agency
The national body responsible for the oversight of quality in Higher Education Institutions is the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). The QAA's expectations are described in the UK Quality Code for Higher Education which continually informs our own quality management processes.
Periodically, the QAA carries out a review of an institution's ability to maintain standards and manage the quality of its provision. We were last reviewed by the QAA in 2014 under the Institutional Review method confirming that we meet all its expectations for quality and standards. Our initial Institutional Review Action Plan was agreed by the Academic Quality and Standards Committee in June 2016, however this has been replaced by the introduction of the Annual Quality Report.
Annual Quality Report
The Annual Quality Report provides a holistic overview of the operation and outcomes of the University’s academic quality management systems during each academic session, and is received by Council each year. The report identifies and reflects upon all elements of the academic quality system, including quality assurance, enhancement, assessment and admissions activities and confirms that all processes and procedures are regularly reviewed and that enhancement activity is responsive to feedback and external requirements. Each section identifies enhancements and actions, which ensure that the academic quality system continues to evolve and takes a proportionate, risk-based approach to address matters relating to academic standards and quality. In addition, a risk status for each area of activity has been identified to highlight areas of concern with actions identified.
Our approach to quality management
Our processes for managing quality and standards are set out in our Academic Regulations and supporting Policies. These documents outline our expectations for baseline level of provision, but also encourage opportunities to develop and enhance practice.
Our approach to quality management is underpinned by core elements:
Reliance on sound academic principles in the design and delivery of inclusive learning and teaching.
This can mean drawing upon general educational research to make the case for a particular approach to learning and teaching, or it can be about drawing upon the research within a discipline. The University sets out the institutional frameworks for quality management, but it also respects disciplinary difference where a well-underpinned case is made.
We have a Student Charter that sets out the mutual commitment of staff and students and our collective expectations, one of which is the recognition of the role of students as active partners in the academic community.
Student representatives are members of all University Committees. Students also provide feedback via module evaluation questionnaires and a range of institutional and national surveys and participate in a number of quality management processes such as periodic reviews, annual review and enhancement, programme approval and collaborative provision academic approval processes.
The emphasis is on the informed student voice by engaging with students as academic partners to ensure they have opportunities to take an active part in shaping their own learning.
We place great importance on peer review from colleagues in other academic institutions, professional bodies, industry and commerce.
Peer review is key to our approach to research and, as a research-intensive institution, peer review also underpins our learning and teaching.
We use peer review in a number of ways, e.g. in external examining, external input into programme approval and periodic review and through professional accreditation. There are also internal peer review mechanisms that allow proactive discussion and engagement with colleagues via College/School/or institutional committees or panels.
Our approach to enhancement is being led via the Education Portfolio under four strands:
- Academic Engagement
- Student Engagement
- Learning Environment
- Student and Programme Data Lifecycle
We have established a Centre for Education Innovation which will provide an environment for academic staff to review, confirm, and challenge learning and teaching at Cardiff University.
The Centre will assist new academic staff to develop and grow in this area and will help to ensure that Cardiff academics strive for excellence when it comes to delivering forward thinking research-led teaching.
Major policy reviews, continuous and structured development of our quality assurance and enhancement policies and processes.
The choice of these initiatives will often be informed by University strategic priorities, national developments and changing sectorial practice, but prospective themes may also emerge from the University’s ongoing dialogue with student representatives, the outcomes of the University’s routine quality management processes and good practice identified at College/School-level.
A commitment to the alignment of quality assurance and quality enhancement in the mechanisms for the management of the quality of our programmes.
As an institution with mature quality assurance mechanisms and a well-established reputation for the quality of its student experience, we focus on operating quality management structures that not only uphold academic standards, but also emphasise the process of self-evaluative reflection that supports ongoing enhancement and development.
What this means in practice is looking at the main processes for quality management alongside the elements that emphasise assurance of minimum standards. There is always an emphasis on ongoing improvement and development.
We are committed to quality management processes that are efficient as well as effective to ensure that maximum levels of resource are available for the continuing delivery of an excellent all round student learning experience. This is principally achieved through a proportionate and risk-based approach to quality management.
We make decisions and monitor our processes through committees. The supreme academic authority of the University is Senate, which is the body responsible for regulating and directing the academic work of the University.
Under delegated authority from Senate, a number of committees have responsibility for aspects of quality management and the student learning experience. These institutional committees inform business at College and School level.
The Quality and Standards Team provides support and guidance on all quality management processes. There are College Quality Officers based in each of our three Colleges to ensure support and guidance is provided with the key features of subsidiarity and proportionality at the forefront of all decision making processes.