How we manage academic standards
Currently, responsibility for managing academic standards and the quality of provision, for learning and for the student experience is shared between the College and its validating partners. Final authority for overseeing academic standards and conferring academic awards rests with the Senate of the validating university. Currently, the University of Manchester validates all of the College’s programmes.
Under the oversight of the University of Manchester, Rose Bruford College has devised structures and processes that are designed to:
- meet the requirements of its current validating university;
- ensure alignment with the principles and precepts of the QAA’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications and the new UK Quality Code for Higher Education;
- facilitate the involvement of academic staff at all levels in the management and maintenance of academic standards.
There are two over-arching principles which guide the management of standards,
(a) how we know students are achieving at the correct level - informed by external examiner reports, who comment on student achievement set against national standards; academic adviser reports; professional body reports (Drama UK, formerly the National Council for Drama Training) and programme teams, who annually check for adherence and alignment to the relevant benchmark, UK Quality Code for HE (The Quality Code) and the FHEQ and if and when appropriate, will make any necessary adjustments.
(b) how we set standards - the design, development and validation of new programmes require the defining of Intended learning Outcomes (ILOs) set against the FHEQ, Benchmark Statements, The Quality Code and any relevant professional requirements.
The remainder of this section:
- sets out the quality processes in place in the College, including an account of those committees which have a core function in respect of academic standards;
- describes how they relate to each other internally;
- explains how they relate to the Validating University.
Quality Management Framework: structures and personnel
The full terms of reference and membership for all the committees listed below, can be found in the College document, Committee structure membership and terms of reference. This document and the minutes of these committees can be found on the DoRIS under Committees
Senior Management Committee
The Senior Management Committee has responsibility for strategic management; planning, monitoring and resource allocation. The presence on the Committee of the Heads of School, is intended, inter alia, to ensure coherence and alignment between the College’s academic portfolio and the trajectory of institutional strategy. The Committee is therefore fully informed of any matters relating to standards and able to then ensure that any appropriate strategic or financial decisions are made.
As the Senior College Committee, Academic Board operates at a strategic level, to advise and inform the Principal, the Board of Governors and the validating universities about all matters relating to the College’s academic portfolio, determine actions necessary for the maintenance of academic quality and standards, receive reports and approve recommendations from its subordinate committees, engage in debate about the College’s academic profile and issues relevant to that profile, consider all academic developments originating externally to the College which bear on its academic programmes and the standards associated with them, and guarantee institutional consistency in all matters which affect, directly or indirectly, the College’s academic programmes and the policies which govern their delivery.
The terms of reference of Academic Board are defined by the Articles of Association of the College, which require the Board to act on behalf of Governors and the validating partner to ensure the effective operation of the institution and the maintenance of appropriate standards. In practice, Academic Board exercises and delegates its responsibilities by its principal sub-committee LQSC and any other panels or working groups it may configure and is thereby confident and assured it is fully informed of all matters relating to the academic portfolio and standards.
Learning, Quality & Standards Committee (LQSC):
Within the College’s quality assurance chain, the Learning, Quality & Standards Committee is a second-tier formation, reporting directly to Academic Board. The role of the Committee is to develop, maintain, monitor, review and inform about all aspects of quality assurance, validation and enhancement, including all regulations and quality processes and to formulate policy in respect of the learning and teaching strategies of the College, advising the Academic Board in matters relating to all forms of learning, teaching and widening participation. As well as monitoring internal processes, it also maintains a broad oversight of quality assurance initiatives at a national level and considers and approves proposals for new programmes and amendments to existing programmes in accordance with the College’s internal processes and the requirements of our validating partners; and considers issues arising from annual programme reviews and external examiners’ reports. As and when necessary, the Committee forms working groups to address any specific issues which may require attention.
The Committee also considers proposals for specific projects to develop learning and teaching and makes recommendations for funding to the Staff Development Committee.
School Examination Boards
School Examination Boards receive the results of students from Programme Assessment Boards, consider the recommendations of the Mitigating Circumstances Committee and agree the classification of degrees for recommendation to the validating partner.
School Boards advise the Head of School on maintaining and developing the School’s learning, teaching and scholarship, assure and enhance the quality of provision within their distinct academic fields and ensure that College policy is effectively taken forward. School Boards receive reports from Programme Committees and ensure the consistent application of School and College policy across their designated fields of provision and provide oversight of the quality of learning opportunities and standards in the assessment process.
Programme Assessment Boards
Important adjuncts to the School Boards are the Programme Assessment Boards which receive the assessment marks for all students registered on the programme for consideration and agreement for recommendation to the School Examination Board. Programme Assessment Boards normally meet at the end of each semester, or as and when required.
The role of the Committee is to formulate programme policy in respect of admissions, assessment and examination procedures, matters relating to student progress, teaching and learning methods and academic and pastoral tutorial arrangements. he Committee also makes recommendations for changes to programme delivery, considers and endorses annual programme review documentation prior to submission to the validating partner, and also considers matters arising from external examiner and academic adviser reports; minutes of Programme Committees and action plans are subsequently discussed at School Board, LQSC and Academic Board
Through Programme Committees, the College maintains a strong dialogue with students and is able to discuss any planned changes to the way in which programmes are delivered and assessed. The Committees also provide a forum in which students may raise any concerns they may have, and in which staff may respond accordingly. This level of involvement ensures that students play an active and vital role in quality processes at programme level. Additionally, part-time programmes use student questionnaires to increase student involvement and feedback.
The Committees meet at least once each semester, and more often if necessary, and report to the School Board. The Committees are sometimes asked to discuss particular issues which have been referred to them from Academic Board. In this way the College ensures that it consults with and receives feedback from the student body and staff not represented on Academic Board.
Key Personnel with Quality Management Functions
While the College’s approach to quality management is a pervasive one, with responsibility extending from Academic Board to the point of classroom delivery, certain personnel have critical organisational roles to play in ensuring that the quality of provision and academic standards are maintained. These are:
- The Principal: has overall responsibility for the quality of the teaching and learning experience at the College. He/she chairs the Academic Board, Examination Appeals Board, Senior Management Committee, and Staffing Committee;
- The Vice Principal: has overall responsibility for day to day administrative quality matters and Chairs the LQSC.
- The Registrar: has overall responsibility for registry and admissions and Clerks the School Examination Boards and Examinations Appeals Board;
- The Director of Learning and Teaching: has responsibility for the quality of teaching, learning and the curriculum in the light of the College’s overall academic profile. S/he chairs the Entry and Academic Progression Committee;
- Head of School: has responsibility for the quality of teaching, learning and the curriculum within the school; Chairs the School Assessment Board and may deputise for the Principal in chairing the Examination board of a School other than their own;
- Programme Directors: have responsibility for the quality of both the teaching and learning and standard of awards on their programmes and also, chair the Programme Committee meeting;
- Head of Quality: has overall responsibility for quality systems and processes.