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Quality Assurance in UK Higher Education: Reviews and Accreditations


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Title: Quality Assurance in UK Higher Education: Reviews and Accreditations

Quality Assurance in UK Higher Education
Reviews and Accreditations
Wendy Yip Director, International Development
What is Quality Assurance?
  • UK Universities award their own degrees
  • National threshold academic standards set out a
    minimum level of achievement that has to be
    reached for students to succeed on the course and
    achieve the qualification
  • Academic quality is how well the University
    supports students in their learning the quality
    of teaching, the support, the resources
  • Quality Assurance is the process of checking that
    the standards and quality of the education meet
    the agreed expectations. It is about raising
    standards and ensuring students have the best
    possible experience when studying

Why do it?
  • Having quality and standards means that students
    and employers and everyone else can have
    confidence in a students education and degree.
    Students have a better chance of gaining good
    employment or becoming successful researchers
  • Good practice can be identified and spread to
    other programmes and to other Universities
    (through peer review)
  • Public reports, press reports, league tables and
    student satisfaction surveys can enhance or
    damage a
  • Universitys reputation and affect a
  • Universitys ability to attract the best
  • students

How is it done?
  • The University checks that quality and standards
    are being met
  • all new Programmes have to be formally approved
  • annual monitoring is carried out to make sure
    everything is on track and the courses stay up to
  • more detailed reviews, with external staff
    involved, are carried out every six years
    research degrees as well as taught
  • external examiners from other Universities advise
    on academic standards and how they compare to
    similar awards in other Universities

Who checks on the Universities?
  • The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education
  • is responsible for upholding the quality and
    standards of Universities in the UK

National Level Quality Assurance Agency (QAA)
  • Mission
  • to safeguard the public interest in sound
    standards of higher education qualifications and
    to inform and encourage continuous improvement in
    the management of the quality of higher education
  • They do this by
  • working with higher education institutions to
    define academic standards and quality
  • carry out and publish reviews against these
  • Established in 1997
  • Independent body funded by subscriptions from UK
    universities and colleges of higher education,
    and through contracts with the main UK higher
    education funding bodies

QAA - responsibilities
  • Each university and college of higher education
    is responsible for ensuring that
  • appropriate standards are being achieved
  • a good quality education is being offered
  • QAAs responsibility is to
  • safeguard the public interest in sound standards
    of higher education qualifications
  • encourage continuous improvement in the
    management of the quality of higher education
  • They achieve this by
  • reviewing standards and quality
  • providing reference points that help to define
    clear and explicit standards
  • In England, universities and colleges of higher
    education are reviewed through an institutional
    audit now called Higher Education Review

UK Quality Code
  • Developed by QAA with the higher education
    community, and sets out the Expectations that all
    providers of UK higher education are required to
  • The Quality Code is grouped into three parts
  • Part A on academic standards
  • Part B on academic quality
  • Part C on information about higher education
  • To ensure that Aston met the expectations of the
    Quality Code, the Universitys Learning and
    Teaching Committee established an expert group to
    consider each Chapter (13 Groups in total).
  • Each Group reported on meeting the Expectations
    of their chapter, and to identify any actions
    the University should take.
  • Having submitted their initial reports the expert
    groups continue to meet as required to record
    progress on the actions they recommended.

UK Quality Code
  • Part A Setting and Maintaining Academic
  • Qualifications Frameworks
  • Characteristics Statements
  • Credit Frameworks?
  • Subject Benchmark Statements

UK Quality Code
  • Part B Assuring and enhancing academic
  • Chapter B1 Programme Design, Development and
  • Chapter B2 Recruitment, Selection and
    Admission to Higher Education
  • Chapter B3 Learning and Teaching
  • Chapter B4 Enabling Student Development and
  • Chapter B5 Student Engagement
  • Chapter B6 Assessment of Students the
    Recognition of Prior Learning
  • Chapter B7 External Examining
  • Chapter B8 Programme Monitoring and Review
  • Chapter B9 Academic Appeals and Student
  • Chapter B10 Managing Higher Education Provision
    with Others
  • Chapter B11 Research Degrees

UK Quality Code
  • Part C Information about Higher Education
  • Public confidence in higher education relies on
    public understanding of the achievement
    represented by higher education qualifications.
  • The Quality Code sets out an Expectation that
    higher education providers make available valid,
    reliable useful and accessible information about
    their provision.

Chapter B10 Managing Higher Education Provision
with Others
  • Work and Study placements
  • UK and abroad, taught and research students
  • Student exchange agreements
  • Work-based learning in collaboration with
  • Articulation agreements offering entry to second
    or final years of courses
  • Dual/double awards of taught and research
  • Joint awards

Chapter B10 Managing Higher Education Provision
with Others
  • Importance of clear agreements
  • Who is responsible for what especially
  • Programme Management Team
  • Examination Boards
  • Assessment of what staff development might be
  • Regular reviews of collaborative provision are
    held and are based on
  • admission and progression data
  • student and employer feedback
  • annual review and external examiners reports
  • Meetings are held with the programme team,
    students and, where appropriate, employers

QAA Higher Education Review (HER) 2015
  • The Higher Education Review for Aston University
    took place in April 2015
  • Had to demonstrate how it maintains its academic
    standards and quality and how it enhances the
    quality of learning opportunities for its
  • The submission, in January 2015, of a Self
    Evaluation Document (SED) to the QAA, accompanied
    by a detailed range of evidence sources to
    support the descriptions and reflections made in
    the SED on the Institutions strategy,
    structures, policies and processes
  • A week long visit by the QAA Review Team in April
    2015. The QAA met with students and a range of
    staff from across the University to gain
    first-hand information on the institutions
    approach to quality assurance and enhancement
  • Following the Review visit, the QAA will write a
    report on the findings of its review which will
    include judgements, recommendations, features of
    good practice and affirmations. The University
    will have an opportunity to respond to the report
    before the final report is published on its

Institutional Level Aston Universitys Approach
to Quality
  • Aston University operates a tiered approach to
    quality assurance and enhancement in which
  • Individual staff are encouraged to take
    responsibility to strive for high standards and
    quality of their own activities
  • School Boards (through Academic Groups, School
    Teaching and Learning Committees and School
    Research Committees) and Executive Deans of
    School are responsible for ensuring that academic
    provision and research continue to meet the
    quality thresholds and academic plans of the
    School and the University
  • Whilst the Senate and Learning and Teaching
    Committee (LTC) establishes and monitors the
    effectiveness of University quality and standards
    policies, processes, procedures and regulatory
    frameworks, as well as approving codes of
    practice (Quality Team)

Institutional Level Aston Universitys Approach
to Quality
  • Programmes of study are monitored annually within
    the Schools, taking into account feedback from
    students, teaching staff, external examiners,
    placement providers and professional bodies
  • Each degree programme is subject to an internal
    review by the Learning and Teaching Committee
    every six years Periodic review panels include
    academics from across the Schools, member of
    staff with expertise in learning and teaching and
    Students Union, and two external
    representatives. Subject areas and the Schools
    are required to respond fully and formally to the
    recommendations of the resulting review report

Quality Management Structure at Aston University
KEY Research Programmes
UG and PGT Programmes
SENATE (3 meetings a year)
Research Committee (At least 2 meetings a year)
Learning and Teaching Committee (4 meetings a
Graduate School Management Committee (3
meetings a year)
Collaborative Provision Strategy Group (3
meetings a year)
4 School Management Teams (Various)
University Research Ethics Committee (1 meeting
a year)
Programme Approval Sub-Committee (6 meetings a
4 School Learning and Teaching Committees
4 School Research Committees (Various)
Regulation Sub-Committee (3 meetings a year)
School Research Ethics Committee (1 meeting a
School Level Aston Business School's Approach to
  • ABS has a strong quality assurance and
    enhancement framework led by its own Quality Unit
    and Quality Group
  • The Schools procedures are embedded within those
    of the University and there is active engagement
    with University staff and mechanisms
  • The introduction of the Quality Unit and Quality
    Group shows the commitment of ABS to a quality
    agenda and to continuous quality improvement
  • Triple Accreditation for Aston Business School
  • AMBA 2015
  • AACSB 2013
  • EQUIS 2011
  • ABS has significantly increased the involvement
    of other groups in programme design and
    evaluation, notably the business community both
    local and nationally and alumni. This has added
    an invaluable external perspective to School's
    activities notably by the Advisory Board.

  • Students also have a role in quality assurance
    and if they are not happy with their course they
  • make a complaint to the University
  • make a complaint to the national Office of
    Independent Adjudicator (OIA)
  • make a complaint to the QAA (the Concerns
  • Students are given
  • Student Charter
  • Student Handbook
  • Course Handbook
  • Students are encouraged to give regular feedback
  • Satisfaction surveys
  • Course surveys
  • Leavers destination surveys

External Accreditation
  • QAA (Quality Assurance Agency)
  • EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System)
  • AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools
    of Business
  • AMBA (Association of MBAs)
  • Professional Bodies

Professional organisations
  • If students are studying for a professional
    qualification, such as engineering, law or
    pharmacy, their programmes are also looked at by
    professional organisations who approve the
    courses and monitor them

Where does the Bologna Process fit in?
  • The UK was one of the primary signatories in 1999
  • Now covers 47 European and Eurasian countries
  • Much of the discussion takes place at a national
  • European Ministers of Education meet every 2
    years to discuss and build upon objectives
  • Essentially
  • Transparent Quality Assurance processes
  • The Three Cycle System
  • Easier recognition of qualifications and periods
    of study
  • The European Qualifications Framework (EQF)
  • ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation
  • Diploma Supplement
  • Mobility /international exchange
  • Establishment of the EHEA as a common frame of

Where does the Bologna Process fit in?
  • Transparent Quality Assurance processes
  • UK QAA certified as fully compliant with the
    European Standards and Guidelines for Quality
    Assurance and has played an active role in
    promoting best practice at a European level
  • The Three Cycle System
  • In 2008, QAA verified The framework for higher
    education qualifications in England, Wales NI
    (FHEQ) to be compatible with the Framework for
    Qualifications of the European Higher Education
    Area (FQ-EHEA)
  • UK via UUK ( France, Germany, Poland,
    Switzerland) contributed to Declaration on
    doctoral training in Europe, which makes the case
    against the regulation of doctoral degrees

Where does the Bologna Process fit in?
  • Easier recognition of qualifications and
    periods of study
  • In 2008, QAA verified The framework for higher
    education qualifications in England, Wales NI
    (FHEQ) to be compatible with the Framework for
    Qualifications of the European Higher Education
    Area (FQ-EHEA)
  • Credit framework exists
  • Two UK credits one ECTS credit
  • Full-time UK HE year 120 UK credits (60 ECTS
  • Diploma Supplement
  • Aston issues the Diploma Supplement, which
    incorporates information into a document which
    sets the student's course in the national context

What next for the Bologna Process?
  • In Bucharest in April 2012, the Education
    Ministers identified three key priorities for the
  • Mobility
  • EU Ministers have agreed to double the proportion
    of higher education students completing a study
    or training period abroad to 20 by 2020 and
    support for mobility is a core focus of the EU
    programme for education and training
  • Employability
  • Quality
  • Continual work on ECTS
  • Continual work on Diploma Supplement

Useful Website
  • QAA (Quality Assurance Agency) www.qaa.ac.uk

AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools
of Business)
  • Purpose To advance quality management education
    worldwide through accreditation, thought
    leadership, and value-added services
  • Through its accreditation standards and
    processes, AACSB recognises institutions that
    uphold its mission and core values, work to
    advance the interests of global management
    education, and participate in AACSBs community
    of leading business schools
  • In this context, AACSB focuses on continuous
    quality improvement in management education
    through engagement, innovation, and impact

AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools
of Business)
  • A collegiate business school offering degrees in
    business administration or accounting may
    volunteer for an AACSB Accreditation review
  • As a first step, the business school must
    establish its eligibility for accreditation
  • During the initial accreditation process, the
    school is evaluated on how well it achieves
    AACSBs accreditation standards, through a
    process of self-evaluation and peer review.
  • After earning AACSB Accreditation, the business
    school undergoes periodic peer reviews of its
    strategic improvement to continue its

AACSB Criteria for Business Accreditation
  • The eligibility criteria Core Values General
  • A series of Core Values that AACSB believes are
    important. Schools must demonstrate a commitment
    to and alignment with these values in order to
    achieve and continue AACSB accreditation
  • Encourage and support ethical behaviour by
    students, faculty, administrators, and
    professional staff
  • Maintain a collegiate environment in which
    students, faculty, administrators, professional
    staff, and practitioners interact and collaborate
    in support of learning, scholarship, and
    community engagement
  • demonstrate a commitment to address, engage, and
    respond to current and emerging corporate social
    responsibility issues (e.g., diversity,
    sustainable development, environmental
    sustainability, and globalization of economic
    activity across cultures) through its policies,
    procedures, curricula, research, and/or outreach

AACSB Criteria for Business Accreditation
  • General Criteria to provide a foundation for
    accreditation by defining the scope of review.
    They establish the basis for agreement about the
    entity to be considered and the way that entity
    is organised and supported in the context of
    business and management education
  • must be a well-defined, established entity
  • authorised to award bachelors degrees or higher
    (in business)
  • must be structured to ensure proper oversight,
    accountability, and responsibility for the
    schools operations must be supported by
    continuing resources (human, financial,
    infrastructure, and physical) and must have
    policies and processes for continuous improvement
  • All degree programs included in the AACSB
    accreditation review must demonstrate continuing
    adherence to AACSB accreditation standards.
    Schools are expected to maintain and provide
    timely, accurate information in support of each
    accreditation review

AACSB 15 Standards for Business Accreditation
  • Strategic Management and Innovation
  • Based on the principle that a quality business
    school has a clear mission, acts on that mission,
    translates that mission into expected outcomes,
    and develops strategies for achieving those
  • Standard 1 Mission, Impact, Innovation
  • Standard 2 Intellectual Contributions, Impact,
    Alignment with Mission
  • Standard 3 Financial Strategies Allocation of

AACSB 15 Standards for Business Accreditation
  • Participants Students, Faculty, and
    Professional Staff
  • Students who are matched to the expectations of
    degree programsas well as prepared and supported
    to achieve those expectationsare essential for
    successful educational programmes
  • Professional staff members facilitate and support
    learning and provide essential services for
    students and faculty
  • Faculty resources, develop and manage curricula
    and teach students, as well as produce
    intellectual contributions that advance the
    knowledge, practice, and teaching of business and
  • Standard 4 Student Admissions, Progression, and
    Career Development
  • Standard 5 Faculty Sufficiency and Deployment
  • Standard 6 Faculty Management and Support
  • Standard 7 Professional Staff Sufficiency and

AACSB 15 Standards for Business Accreditation
  • Learning and Teaching
  • Processes in place for determining each degree
    programme learning goals that are relevant and
    appropriate, as well as for designing and
    delivering curricula to maximize the potential
    for achieving the expected outcomes.
  • Systems in place to assess whether learning goals
    have been met.
  • If learning goals are not met, these schools have
    processes in place to improve
  • Standard 8 Curricula Management and Assurance of
  • Standard 9 Curriculum Content
  • Standard 10 Student-Faculty Interactions
  • Standard 11 Degree Program Educational Level,
    Structure, and Equivalence
  • Standard 12 Teaching Effectiveness

AACSB 15 Standards for Business Accreditation
  • Academic and Professional Engagement
  • Business Schools exist at the intersection of
    theory and practice, so should achieve effective
    business education and impactful research by an
    appropriate balance between academic study and
    professional engagement, consistent with quality
    in the context of a school's mission.
  • Academic study and professional engagement are
    not separate activities rather, they be
    integrated in significant ways that are
    appropriate to the mission of the school.
  • Standard 13 Student Academic and Professional
  • Standard 14 Executive Education
  • Standard 15 Faculty Qualifications and

EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System)
  • European Foundation for Management Development
    (EFMD) is Europe's largest network association in
    the field of management development
  • EFMD operates the European Quality Improvement
    System (EQUIS)
  • Objective
  • To raise the standard of management education

EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System)
  • Assesses institutions as a whole - including
    research, e-learning units, executive education
    provision and community outreach
  • Looks for
  • a balance between high academic quality the
    professional relevance provided by close
    interaction with the corporate world
  • the creation of an effective learning environment
    that favours the development of students
    managerial entrepreneurial skills, and fosters
    their sense of global responsibility
  • innovation in all respects, including programme
    design pedagogy
  • A focus on level of internationalisation not a
    strict requirement by AACSB
  • So far all fully accredited EQUIS business
    schools applying for AACSB accreditation have
    succeeded, which has not been the case the other

Institutions with single, double or triple
accreditations (outside North America)
EQUIS Quality Standards Criteria
  • 10 chapters covering the review areas
  • Chapter 1 Context, Governance and Strategy
  • Sets the Schools identity, mission and strategic
    objectives within the national international
    context within which it operates
  • Mission
  • A clearly articulated mission that is understood
    shared throughout the institution
  • Governance
  • An effective integrated organisation for the
    management of its activities based on appropriate
    processes, with a significant degree of control
    over its own destiny
  • Strategy
  • A defined, credible and coherent strategy,
    realistically reflecting its market positioning,
    resources and constraints

EQUIS Quality Standards Criteria
  • Chapter 2 Programmes
  • Looks at the portfolio of programmes offered to
    ensure that they are well-designed with clear
    learning outcomes and an appropriate balance
    between knowledge acquisition and skills
  • Delivery methods should be diverse and reflect
    up-to-date educational practice
  • Strong emphasis on student learning and allow for
    practical work
  • Rigorous assessment processes for monitoring
    quality of students work
  • Regularly evaluated through feedback from
    students and other stakeholders
  • Adequately staffed, managed and administered

EQUIS Quality Standards Criteria
  • Chapter 3 Students
  • Addresses the Schools management of its student
  • The School should demonstrate that it is
    successfully preparing students for potential
    careers in international management.
  • The extent to which the School is able to attract
    students from other countries, both as regular
    students enrolled in its degree programmes and as
    exchange students, is a major indicator in
    assessing the degree of internationalisation

EQUIS Quality Standards Criteria
  • Chapter 4 Faculty
  • The School should recruit, develop and manage its
    faculty in accordance with its strategic
    objectives and have sufficient core faculty to
    cover the major disciplines and constitute a
    viable body of distinctive expertise
  • Criteria includes
  • Faculty size, qualification and composition
  • Faculty management
  • Faculty development
  • Internationalisation
  • Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability
  • Corporate Links

EQUIS Quality Standards Criteria
  • Chapter 5 Research and Development
  • The School should regularly produce original
    contributions to knowledge that are effectively
    disseminated. These should demonstrably make an
    impact on one or more constituencies that are
    strategically important for the successful
    development of the School academic peers,
    management professionals, students, etc.
  • Chapter 6 Executive Education
  • If offered, the School should explain how this
    activity is integrated into their overall
    strategy and into their management systems

EQUIS Quality Standards Criteria
  • Chapter 7 Resources and Administration
  • Demonstrate financial viability institutional
    continuity, with physical resources facilities
    to provide a high quality learning environment
    and with sufficient high quality administrative
    staff and processes to support the Schools range
    of activities
  • Criteria includes
  • Physical Facilities and the Learning Environment
  • Financial Performance and Financial Management
  • Risk Management
  • Information and Documentation Facilities
  • Computing Facilities
  • Marketing and Public Relations
  • Administrative Services and Staff
  • Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability

EQUIS Quality Standards Criteria
  • Chapter 8 Internationalisation
  • The School should have a clearly articulated
    strategy and policies for internationalisation.
  • It should demonstrate its commitment to educating
    and preparing students and participants for
    management in an international environment.
  • This should be underpinned by active
    collaboration with international partner
    institutions in fields such as student exchanges,
    joint programmes, research activity and corporate
  • The School should be able to attract students and
    faculty from other countries.
  • It should carry out research of international
    relevance and scope.

EQUIS Quality Standards Criteria
  • Chapter 9 Ethics, Responsibility and
  • A clear understanding of its role as a globally
    responsible citizen and its contribution to
    ethics and sustainability. This understanding
    should be reflected in the Schools mission,
    strategy and activities.
  • There should be evidence that the Schools
    contribution is reflected in its regular
    activities, covering education, research,
    interactions with businesses and managers,
    community outreach and its own operations.

EQUIS Quality Standards Criteria
  • Chapter 10 Corporate Connections
  • The School should have a clearly articulated
    strategy and policy with regard to its corporate
    connections. It should demonstrate that it
    develops students and participants with a
    practical understanding of business and
    management through interaction with the corporate
  • Faculty should be involved with current
    management practice through research and
    consultancy undertaken in collaboration with
    corporate partners and through executive
  • Corporate input should be a key feature of the
    Schools activities.

Useful Websites
  • QAA (Quality Assurance Agency) www.qaa.ac.uk
  • EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System)
  • AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools
    of Business) www.aacsb.edu
  • AMBA (Association of MBAs) www.mbaworld.com
  • HEA (Higher Education Academy) www.heacademy.ac.uk
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