We aim to help universities and colleges to deliver the best possible experience for higher education (HE) students in Wales.
Our Strategic Approach to the Student Experience 2013/14 to 2015/16 outlined how we would secure excellent quality HE and student experience, informed by student input and feedback. Annex A provides a summary of how we have addressed each element of our Strategic Approach 2013/14 to 2016/17. All of the actions were completed.
The Quality Assessment Framework for Wales places a focus on working in partnership with students and, along with our guidance on Student Charters, we have developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NUS Wales to help address this.
The MoU commits us to pursuing activities of mutual interest and sharing expertise and information and outlines how we will work together to address the needs of students.
The student voice informs governing bodies and its committees across all institutions providing higher education in Wales. Case studies detailing this were submitted by Welsh institutions.
The best practices from these case studies were included in The influence of the student voice in governance to promote what is being done across Wales. The impact such practices can have both on the institution and the student body were detailed in Why students are involved in the governance of institutions providing higher education in Wales.
The student experience and participation in quality and engagement at higher education (HE) institutions have come increasingly to the fore in recent years.
They have been the subject of various studies, including our 2006 ‘Study of the Extent and Effectiveness of Existing Student Representation Structures within Higher Education Institutions across Wales’, commissioned from York Consulting, which reported positively on HE institutions’ activities to improve student representation.
It concluded that Wales was ahead of the game in student representation and provided the evidence base for the Wales Initiative for Student Engagement (WISE) in 2009.This was subsequently rebranded Wise Wales.
Wise Wales is an approach which engages students as active participants in the leadership, management, development and delivery of their own educational experience and is a defining feature of further and higher education in Wales. It aims to make Wales the best place for students to study and continually empower students to engage with the processes that will enable them to participate in the enhancement of their student experience. Wise Wales also helps to coordinate activities across the sector that promote student engagement.
ColegauCymru/Colleges Wales, the Higher Education Academy, HEFCW, Universities Wales, the National Union of Students in Wales, Quality Assurance Agency, Welsh Government and Estyn are partners in this work. WISE is underpinned by three principles: working in partnership, valuing feedback, and harnessing expertise. The work of WISE is described by a statement, which was updated in 2011/12.
The higher education sector in Wales has further shown its commitment to partnership with the publication of a partnership statement. This statement sets out why partnership is important and how partnerships can work for students, staff and universities.
We have published guidance on the development of student charters. We require all regulated and/ or funded institutions to have a student charter from 2012/13. We have kept the guidance under review, with the most recent update in 2017.
This guidance requires regulated and/or funded institutions to provide a high level statement to advise their students what would happen if their course or institution ceased to exist. We have agreed a student protection statement with Universities Wales, which can be adopted or adapted by each institution as appropriate.
The statement is as follows: “The University will service its contractual obligations to students and comply with its commitments under consumer law as outlined by the Competition and Markets Authority. In doing so, Universities will work to protect the student interest when responding to circumstances such as significant changes to how a course is delivered or course closure. The University has in place procedures to respond to these circumstances which will mitigate the potential impact on students and which recognise the different needs of its diverse student body.”
This statement, or a link to it, will be included in all student charters from 2019/20 at the latest.
We have published guidance on good practice in funding of effective, democratic student unions, and student representation for consultation. This includes principles which should underpin the funding of Student Unions (SUs), principles which should underpin the relationship agreement between the SU and the institution; and a common set of core functions which all SUs should provide. These were required to be in place by 2012/13. We revised the guidance in 2014.
We have published information on the impact of student charter and student union funding guidance.