A key part of Academic Quality Services’ integrated Quality Review Process is the Quality Review itself, which consist of self-analysis and a discussion meeting between the Subject Area and a Review Team.
There is an optimised and graded approach to Quality Reviews depending on how the process is triggered. Quality Reviews and Enhanced Quality Reviews.
What is a Quality Review?
Within the Quality Review process, Academic Quality Services will facilitate a Quality Review of each active Subject Area/Programme within the University every 5 years where programme performance metrics indicate there has been no significant risk in the interim period.
A Quality Review is designed to explore a subject area holistically across all levels, identify areas of good practice, stimulate dialogue around enhancement and direction within the subject area, and to ensure independent experts, who may bring a different view that could further enhance the programme, can externally review subject areas effectively. Student representatives linked to the Faculty/School and/or members of the Student Review Community will be involved in Quality Review.
Depending on the complexity of the review, the risk and the recommendations from the Faculty/School and subject area under review, the review itself can last anything from a few hours to two days. Academic Quality Services will work with the subject area to ensure the process aligns to and delivers outcomes that will enhance the subject area.
What is an ‘Enhanced’ Quality Review?
An Enhanced Quality Review is an approach by which the University can intervene when a subject area or programme performs below the levels expected in order to enhance provision and secure the quality of the student experience. They can take place at any time and can be triggered by a range of issues, and can also be held at the request of the Faculty/School or subject area to provide additional support for enhancement.
The Enhanced Quality Reviews are there to ensure any issues identified can be addressed as quickly as possible, rather than letting problems develop until they are much more difficult to resolve.
What Triggers an Enhanced Quality Review?
Academic Quality Services will monitor key performance indicators for each Faculty/School throughout the year, liaising with Directors of Learning and Teaching and the Chair of the Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee when performance falls below the standards expected:
- Annual Programme Review forms
- Annual Module Review forms
- External Examiner reports
- Faculty/School Learning and Teaching minutes
- Student experience survey data, including the NSS, SES, PTES, and PRES
- Module feedback reports
- Progression and completion data
- DLHE data
- Degree outcomes
Should issues within a programme, subject area, Department, or Faculty/School be identified, Academic Quality Services will discuss this with the Faculty/School Director of Learning and Teaching. The final decision on whether to conduct an Enhanced Quality Review will rest with Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee.
Academic Quality Services will then work with the subject area concerned to ensure that they are fully informed of the plans, and will offer support throughout the process.
When are Quality Reviews Carried out?
Quality Reviews are normally carried out between October and May to ensure students are fully engaged with the review process. Subject areas will normally have plenty of notice that they will be subject to a Quality Review, and the Academic Quality Services team will work with the subject area throughout the planning and review process to ensure a smooth and supported experience.
Should I be Concerned as Programme Director?
Any Quality Review can be challenging, but the more engaged Programme Directors are the more positive benefit they can bring. Quality Reviews have been established to be a collegiate, collaborative and constructive approach to working together to solve problems and enhance the student experience. Provided all staff are committed to achieving a positive outcome, the Quality Reviews are an excellent opportunity to make meaningful change.
In particular the Review will:
- Identify areas of concern and establish how Academic Quality Services can provide further advice and support.
- Identify areas of good practice that can be shared with the wider University.
- Engage External Subject Specialists to provide different perspectives and ideas for change to enhance the curriculum.
What Happens Before the Quality Review?
Once it is confirmed that a Quality Review is taking place, a member of Academic Quality Services will meet with the Programme Director and subject area team to explain the process in detail and answer any questions they may have. The Programme Director will also be issued with the Quality Review Handbook for reference throughout the process.
The Programme Director and the subject area team are required to complete a Self-Evaluation Document, and submit this along with a range of supporting documentation. This must be submitted at least one month prior to the Quality Review date in order to allow the Review Team a sufficient period of time to read and discuss the document and to assess the risk and level of review required. Two weeks prior to the Quality Review date, the Review Team will meet to confirm key themes for discussion during the Review itself.
The Secretary for the Review, provided by Academic Quality Services, will be available to support the subject area team throughout the process. They will hold regular meetings with the team to assist them in preparing the Self-Evaluation Document, and will be on hand to offer advice and answer any questions the team may have.
What Documents will the Review Team Explore?
In addition to the complete Self-Evaluation Document, the following supporting documentation is also consider by the Review Team:
- Completed Annual Programme Reviews
- Records of previous Programme approvals or amendments
- External Examiner Reports and Responses (last 3 years)
- Programme Specification(s) and Module descriptors
- Reports from Student/Staff Committees relating to the programme (last 3 years)
- Student Handbooks (most recent only)
- Boards of Studies Minutes (last 3 years)
- Module Feedback Overview Reports (last 3 years)
- National Student Survey and/or Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey Results, Student Experience Survey
- Curriculum Map
- QAA Subject Benchmark Statement
The items in bold is the documentation Academic Quality Services will be requesting from the Faculty/School. Academic Quality Services will provide all other documentation centrally.
What is the Self-Evaluation Document?
The Self-Evaluation Document is the key piece of documentation for the Quality Review, and requires the Programme Director, supported by the Subject Team and Director of Learning and Teaching, to provide a holistic reflective analysis on the performance of their Subject Area/Programme across the following areas:
- University and Faculty/School Strategy
- Subject Area Context, Culture and Values
- Student Experience
- Teaching Quality
- Learning Environment
- Student Outcomes and Learning Gain
- Research and Postgraduate Research Students
- Horizon Scanning: Issues, Trends and Future Development
The majority of the above sections are supported by key metrics to inform reflection.
In addition to providing a critical self-reflection and useful information for the Review, the Self-Evaluation Document is also used to undertake a risk assessment to determine the level of review required, which is then agreed in consultation with the subject area and Faculty/School. For example, if a subject area or programme is deemed low risk according to the data, the Review itself will run for half a day. However, if the metrics demonstrate high risk, the Review will be longer. Faculties/Schools or subject areas may request for a Quality Review to be longer that would otherwise be required, if they believe it would be of greater benefit to discuss issues in more depth.
Who is on the Review Team?
The Quality Review Team is recruited by Academic Quality Services, and comprises of the following individuals:
The Chair – a Senior Academic external to the Faculty/School in which the subject area or programme sits. They are responsible for leading the discussions and feeding the Commendations, Recommendations and Requirements back to the Teaching Team at the end of the Review.
The Internal Review Team Members – two Academics external to the Faculty/School in which the subject area or programme sits. They are responsible for contributing to discussions during the Review.
The External Subject Specialist – a Senior Academic from the same discipline as the subject area or programme. They are recruited from the top-performing institutions for the discipline, and are required to attend the Quality Review, lead discussions and provide a written report. The External Subject Specialist is selected by the Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee in consultation with the Subject Area.
The Student Review Team Member – a Student Representative from either the programme, the subject area, or the Faculty/School. They are required to contribute to discussions and provide context from the students’ Perspective. They will also work with the Secretary in gathering views from the wider student body. Student reviewers may be members of the Student Review Community.
The Secretary – an Academic Quality Officer from Academic Quality Services. They are required to provide support and advice to the Teaching Team, the Review Team and the student representative(s), ensure the review and discussion covers the key areas, prepare the Quality Review Report, and monitor the Action Plan.
Other Quality Review Team Members – Occasionally if specific issues are identified around teaching, employability, inclusivity, or Welsh provision, Academic Quality Services may invite a member of staff from the Swansea Academy of Learning and Teaching (SALT), the Swansea Employability Academy (SEA), the Swansea Academy of Inclusivity and Learner Success (SAILS), or Academi Hywel Teifi respectively to provide specialise guidance and support.
Who is Required to Attend from the Faculty/School?
The Programme Director must be in attendance, and it is sensible to engage staff which contributed to the writing of the Self-Evaluation Document. In addition, Programme Directors are encouraged to invite a wider base of academic staff at all levels who contribute to the delivery of the programme. The attendance of administrative support staff will also be required at certain points during the Quality Review.
The Director of Learning and Teaching and the Executive Dean (or nominee) will be required to attend at the beginning of the Quality Review to assist in providing an overview of the Faculty/School and its structure.
What Happens After a Quality Review?
Final Commendations, Recommendations and Requirements will be circulated by the Secretary within 24 hours of the Quality Review, following confirmation of draft outcomes at the end of the Quality Review meeting. The Secretary will complete the draft Quality Review Report within five working days of the Quality Review, which will then be circulated to the Quality Review Team to confirm accuracy. Once confirmed, it will then be circulated to the Programme Director, Director of Learning and Teaching, and Executive Dean or nominee to check any factual inaccuracy, following which it will be made available to wider staff and students.
The Programme Director, Subject Area Team and Student Representatives should then respond to recommendations and requirements in the form of discrete actions added to the Subject Area Action Plan, which should be submitted to the Quality Review Secretary within 10 working days of the receipt of the Quality Review Report.
The report and Action Plan will be submitted to the University’s Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee for review. Your Subject Area Action Plan will be monitored by Academic Quality Services and the Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee.
Who can I Contact if I have any Questions or Need Support?
The Academic Quality Services team will provide support and guidance throughout the Quality Review process and should be your first port of call.