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Quality assessment, assurance and enhancement:

Background

Under the Higher Education (Wales) Act 2015 we have to assess, or make arrangements to assess, the quality of education provided in Wales by or on behalf of each regulated institution. We do this through our quality assessment processes. We also work with the Higher Education Academy to support the higher education community in enhancing the quality of learning and teaching.

Quality Assessment

Our quality assessment responsibilities under the Higher Education (Wales) Act 2015, are addressed by our Quality Assessment Committee. The Act requires us to assess, or make arrangements to assess, the quality of education provided in Wales by or on behalf of each regulated institution.

Under the Act, we have powers in relation to provision that is, or is likely to become, inadequate. The Act defines this as being 'not adequate to meet the reasonable needs of those receiving the education or undertaking the course'. We currently consider the reasonable needs to have been met if a provider obtains judgements of ‘Meet(s) UK expectations’ or ‘Commended’ in all four judgement categories in QAA review. In every case, a regulated institution receiving a ‘requires improvement’ or ‘does not meet’ outcome will be deemed to have quality which is, or is likely to become, inadequate. It will be subject to the procedures detailed in this document, before becoming subject to the inadequate quality interventions outlined in the Transitional Statement of Intervention. Our inadequate quality processes prior to intervention are available on our website.

Our Memorandum of Understanding with Estyn and QAA provides a framework for working relationships between us, to ensure efficient and effective cooperation in relation to the review of higher education in Wales. It commits to avoiding duplication of effort, identifying activities of mutual interest where collaboration would benefit learners in higher education, and sharing expertise in support of continuous improvement of the quality of education.

In October 2014 the higher education (HE) funding bodies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland announced that we would jointly undertake a review of quality assessment arrangements in HE. Although the Scottish Funding Council is reviewing its own arrangements through a separate process, all four funding bodies will share emerging views. Further information about the review is on the HEFCE website.

We held an event on the proposals on 30 June 2015. The slides from the day and a summary document are available below:

Quality assessment event Wales: presentation

The Future of Quality Assessment

Higher Education (Wales) Act 2015

Summary of the Quality Assessment Review Seminar June 2015

Summary of the Quality Assessment Review, written responses, November 2015

Further information on the outcomes of the consultation will be published in due course. This will also take account of the proposed Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in England, and whether other countries of the UK opt to participate beyond TEF1. We have consulted on a new Quality Assessment Framework for Wales, which aligns with quality assessment approaches in the other countries of the UK. We have tried to use existing processes and practices as much as possible to minimise the burden on providers, and will continue to do so. We recognise the increasing demand on student unions, and have developed a Memorandum of Understanding with NUS Wales to help address this.

Quality Assessment arrangements apply to all provision, including bilingual and Welsh Medium provision.

We have received confirmation from the Home Office that the proposals for the revised operating model to be implemented in Wales, and the transition arrangements, meet the Home Office requirements for educational oversight.

How the arrangements will work in practice

Timetable for quality developments

Quality Assurance

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) reviews higher education (HE) provision in Wales, including that directly funded in further education (FE) institutions. From 2014-15, Higher Education Review: Wales succeeded Institutional Review, including the arrangements for implementing and following up action plans in respect of inadequate quality. Further information is on the Quality Assurance Agency website. The purpose of review is to meet the public interest in knowing that Welsh HE provision is of appropriate academic standard and quality.

HE providers are required to publish a range of information about teaching quality and standards. Some of this information is available on institutions' websites, and some is available on the Unistats website.

Quality Enhancement
 
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