Assuring Quality at Swansea


Assuring Quality and Standards Throughout the COVID-19 Crisis

Originally published September 2020

Updated December 2021

Academic Quality Services has continued to operate throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, working remotely and effectively since March 2020 and will continue to operate an engaged and flexible approach to quality assurance and enhancement, reflecting the impact of the pandemic on teaching and professional services colleagues, without sacrificing standards.

As colleagues adapt to the pandemic, and the Faculty restructuring programme has brought enhanced support for quality assurance, along with the opportunity to enhance processes, most quality assurance processes have now been adapted to operate as close to ‘as normal’ as possible.  Academic Quality Services remains committed to working in partnership with Faculties and students to ensure the best possible support, engagement and service.

ACADEMIC QUALITY SERVICES PROCESSES NOW OPERATING AS NORMAL:

Most Quality Assurance and Enhancement processes are now operating as ‘normal’, although through remote engagement:

  • Annual Module Review
  • Annual Programme Review
  • Quality Reviews (conducted remotely) – the backlog created by Covid-19 postponements is being addressed through enhanced scheduling approaches
  • Programme and Module changes and governance
  • The analysis of student survey outcomes (UG, PGT and PGR)
  • Action Planning and Reporting
  • External Examining (all duties completed remotely unless a specific in person visit is required)
  • The analysis of External Examiner reports (UG and PGT)
  • Programme Approval and amendment, via Programme Management Board and Programme Approval Committee, which will continue to operate online.
  • All AQS managed committees are operating online and in a more flexible, but otherwise normal fashion
  • Faculty/School Engagement provides maximum support for quality assurance and other academic matters during this challenging time.

Phil Maull

Head of Academic Quality Services


Swansea University is committed to ensuring the highest standards of learning, teaching, assessment and research for every student, leading to an exceptional student experience and positive student outcomes. Academic Quality Services is instrumental in managing this approach, working closely with Academic Services as a whole and professional services and academic Faculties/Schools across the institution to maintain and enhance quality and standards.

Swansea University’s approach to Quality Assurance and Enhancement is based upon the QAA’s UK Quality Code for Higher Education and fully aligned to the Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies and Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales. Using a full range of key metrics, and integrating elements of the Teaching Excellence Framework, has enabled us to create a balanced, proportionate and risk-based approach to quality assurance and enhancement, which focuses on identifying where improvements are required, and ensuring that these happen.

QAA logo

In June 2022, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education published a Quality Enhancement Review Case Study: Programme and Portfolio Management at Swansea University, as an example of a successful, data informed and responsive approach to its academic portfolio management.  

The University also received five commendations from the Quality Enhancement Review process in November 2020 (full report and action plan: Quality Enhancement Review, Swansea University, Outcome Report, December 2020, Action Plan QAA QER Report 2020), which was welcome in validating the approach Swansea University has taken to managing quality and standards particularly throughout the pandemic.

Swansea’s regulations, quality and standards Governance Structure are managed through the Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee and its associated sub-Committees and Boards, including Academic Regulations and Cases Board, Progression and Awards Board, Collaborative Partnerships Board and Programme Approval Committee.

Academic Quality Services also develop and manage a range of electronic and physical publications for students and staff, including Academic RegulationsUniversity Handbooks and Codes of Practice.


Measuring Quality: Making Best Use of Data

Whilst it is essential not to lose sight of the inherent value in qualitative data, conversations and direct engagement, we have rebuilt our quality processes to be data informed, and aligned to both the University’s strategy and business planning process, in the belief that quality assurance must be integral to the University’s success as a business. As Universities are now measured and ranked in the public sphere, this is where we take a cue for the data sets, to ensure programmes and subject areas are benchmarked against national competitor groups. As a result, our Quality Review process in particular makes full use of key data sets, primarily aligned to the Teaching Excellence Framework and League Table data.

This approach enables us to make data-informed and risk-based decisions on where to target support and enhancement most effectively, to best deliver the best possible student experience, whilst ensuring we can deliver the most efficient and highest impact process possible.


 

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