2.9 Departmental Periodic Review, including periodic revalidation of provision

1. Periodic Review provides an opportunity for the department, faculty and University to evaluate the effectiveness of a department’s management, learning, teaching and enhancement and quality assurance procedures and monitoring of performance against relevant KPIs and for the University to assure itself and be able to demonstrate to external bodies that management of quality and standards are being delivered successfully.

2. The Review Team, reporting to Academic Board will, on behalf of the University, audit departments on a 5-6 year rolling basis, to examine that all relevant processes and mechanisms for quality and standards are in place, operating effectively and efficiently, and that recommended enhancements to teaching and learning are being implemented. Collaborative provision will normally be included as part of a departmental review.

3. Student representatives from the department should be encouraged to participate fully in the department’s preparations for the audit; Student representatives may submit their own submission as an appendix to the department submission.

Details of the process

4. The following areas will be considered in a review: undergraduate and postgraduate schemes and modules; postgraduate research provision; collaborative provision; feedback systems; compliance with quality assurance processes; staff development and training.

5. A review will typically last up to two days and involve:

  • Inspection of a self-evaluation document, relevant committee minutes and all other documentation concerned with teaching and learning in a department
  • Meeting(s) with Head of Department and staff with responsibility for different aspects of teaching and learning (e.g. examinations, student support, admissions)
  • Meeting(s) with student representatives, undergraduate, taught postgraduate and research postgraduates
  • Meeting(s) with other staff involved in quality assurance and/or teaching and learning (e.g. new staff members / administrators)
  • Revalidation of provision (usually the second day will focus on the schemes).

NOTE: normally a member of staff would only contribute to one of the groups unless they fulfil significantly different roles within the department.

Panel Membership

6. Reviews will normally be chaired by a Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC Learning and Teaching or FPVC). Panel members will be given appropriate training and guidance.  Membership will be discussed with the Chair of Academic Board, normally it should include:

  • Chair (normally the PVC (Learning and Teaching) or a Faculty PVC)
  • Associate Dean
  • Head of Department
  • External Academic Assessor (Academic Subject expert and if appropriate an industry expert)
  • Academic Registrar or their representative
  • Student representative
  • A member of the Academic Registry will act as Secretary

7. Departments will be invited to nominate three professional colleagues from the UK who could act as an External Assessor for which a fee and expenses are paid.  An External Assessor should not be a current External Examiner and should preferably have knowledge of quality assurance processes and procedures.  The choice of external assessor will be made by the Chair and the Secretary in consultation with the department.

Indicative Schedule

8. The following is an indicative schedule.  The Chair and Secretary may meet with students ahead of the main meeting, and submit a written summary of the discussion for consideration by the Review Panel:

Time

Event

Day One – focus on quality assurance processes and feedback from staff and students

9.15 am

Private meeting of Panel

10.00 am

Meeting with the Head of Department

11.00 am

Private meeting of Panel

11.30 am

Meeting with senior academic staff with key roles in the department (It may be appropriate to see two separate groups)

12.30 pm

LUNCH

1.30 pm

Private Meeting of Panel

2.00 pm

Meetings with students*

3.00 pm

Private meeting of Panel

3.15pm

Meeting with other staff including administrative and part time staff involved with quality assurance and/or teaching and learning

4.15 pm

Private meeting of Panel

5.00 pm

close

Day Two – focus on revalidation of provision – may require a full day for large departments

9.15 am

Private meeting of Panel

9.30

Meetings with scheme leaders

11.00

Private meeting of Panel

12.00

Feedback to Head of Department

12.30

Lunch and Finish

9. A Departmental Review will consider:

Undergraduate and Postgraduate Schemes and Modules

(i) the standards of teaching and learning in modules.

(ii) Methods of assessment in their relationship to:

  • learning outcomes
  • course content
  • learning strategies
  • transferable skills

(iii) Student Progression and Achievement

(iv) Student Support and Guidelines

(v) Student representation

(vi) Teaching and Learning Resources

(vii) Progression between different levels of undergraduate courses (Level 0 through to level M in the case of Integrated Masters schemes), and the relationship between undergraduate and postgraduate modules

(viii) Holistic nature of the course (including Joint Honours)

(ix) Teaching and learning innovations e.g. VLE

(x) Student Handbooks and other information provided to students

(xi) Any Franchising, collaborative or Distance Learning schemes

(xii) Welsh Medium teaching (if applicable)

(xiii) Placements or work experience (if applicable)

(xiv) Exchange and Erasmus

(xv) Support, training, supervision and monitoring of research students.

Feedback Systems:

(i) External Examiners’ Reports

(ii) Feedback from Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (if applicable)

(iii) Student Module and Scheme Evaluations, reports on MEQs, Tell us Now

(iv) Annual Monitoring of Taught Schemes

(v) KPIs including National Student Survey Results

Compliance:

The Review will also ensure that departments are complying with the University’s Regulations and the Academic Quality Handbook, and engaging with and implementing University policy, including, for example, the University’s Learning and Teaching Strategy.

Postgraduate Research provision and support

Staff Development and Training:

(i) University and Departmental induction and training, and the development of staff

(ii) Peer Observation process.

10. The Academic Registry may invite the department to ask one or more currently serving external examiners to submit a written Report, in addition to their normal external examiner report ahead of the panel meeting.

11. The panel will be required to consider the following areas, in accordance with the Advice and Guidance in the UK Quality Code for Higher Education:

(i) Ensure the currency and validity of the schemes under review, in light of developing knowledge in the discipline area and any cumulative changes during the period since initial approval / previous review

(ii) Evaluate the attainment of scheme learning outcomes by students, referring as appropriate to previous AMTS reports and data sets, and reports of external examiners

(iii) Evaluate the continuing effectiveness of the curriculum and the assessment regime in relation to scheme learning outcomes

(iv) Identify any areas of weakness, and make recommendations for appropriate actions.

Documentation

12. Departments are expected to evaluate themselves against a set of statements in relation to quality and standards of teaching and learning, using a self evaluation template. The statements cover the following areas: academic schemes, teaching and learning, assessment and feedback, research students, student participation and experience, academic staff development, collaborative provision and external examiners.

13. The comments section should be used to reference supporting evidence and identify action points for quality enhancement and indicate the steps the department has identified that it needs to take to enhance quality and/or improve performance.

14. The central QA Team will work with the department to gather supporting documentation, and publish this information on the Academic Registry SharePoint site ahead of the Review meeting.

Documentation supporting quality assurance processes and feedback from staff and students

  • Departmental Structure Roles and Responsibilities
  • Minutes of departmental meetings and SSCCs for the previous year
  • Relevant departmental strategy documents e.g. Teaching & Learning Strategy; NSS Action Plan, Employability Strategy
  • Quality Assurance documentation, e.g. Previous departmental review/audit reports and action plans; Period Scheme Review report, External Examiners’ Reports; External Examiner Reports, Annual monitoring forms; PSRB reports etc
  • Evidence of Evaluation Mechanisms, e.g. NSS Action Plans, MEQs outputs etc
  • Departmental Publications, e.g. Welcome Week or induction programme; Student handbooks for the current academic year; Staff Handbook(s)/guidance
  • Other documentation, e.g. Annual Departmental Review Report prepared by the Planning Department including statistical data relating to applicants, students and staff; Key Information Sets.

Documentation supporting revalidation of schemes

  •  Updated Programme Specifications for all schemes under review
  • The Review Panel may request additional information if specific issues need to be explored further.

Outcome of a Departmental Periodic Review visit

15. Following the visit, a report will be prepared by the Panel Secretary which will highlight areas of good practice and identify recommendations for the department, for the faculty and for the University. The Pro Vice Chancellor may also invite the External Assessor to submit a written report.  The Head of Department will be given an opportunity to comment on factual accuracy of a draft report, but is not expected to respond in full at this stage. 

16. The panel will arrive at one of the following recommendations for each scheme or groups of schemes being revalidated:

(i) Unconditional revalidation;

(ii) Conditional revalidation, subject to minor modifications being fulfilled within a given time limit;

(iii) Major revisions, which may be required to be submitted to the relevant Faculty Academic Affairs Committee (FAAC);

(iv) Withdrawal or suspension.

In the case of a decision of withdrawal or suspension, the department will be asked to complete the relevant documentation and seek approval via the FAAC, making appropriate arrangements to ensure that all candidates who have already embarked on a scheme may complete their studies.

17. Departments will be expected to respond to issues identified in relation to revalidation of schemes within a set time period, to be reviewed by the Chair. If the Chair is satisfied that there are no significant issues of concern then the decision of the panel in respect of the schemes being revalidated shall be considered final and reported to the faculty. Where there are any issues of concern the final decisions shall be referred to the faculty and/or Academic Board.

18. In the case of a decision of withdrawal or suspension, the department will be asked to complete the relevant documentation and seek approval via the FAAC, making appropriate arrangements to ensure that all candidates who have already embarked on a scheme may complete their studies.

19. The department will be asked to submit an Action Plan within three months of the publication of the report, indicating how it intends to implement the recommendations of the Review Panel and provide progress reports to the Faculty on recommendations identified in the Action Plan.

20. The Report and Action Plan will be presented to Academic Board. If Academic Board is not satisfied with the progress or implementation of the action points, it can request the following:

(i) A visit to the department to discuss the action points in more detail

(ii) That a follow up internal audit be conducted within an agreed time frame.

 

March 2019