Senior management in Queen’s University Belfast have long recognised that the ultimate responsibility for the oversight of teaching and learning rests with the governing body, the University Senate. When the academic assurance requirement was introduced in Northern Ireland the University responded quickly so as to enable the Senate members to discharge their new duty.
The University introduced an Academic Assurance Statement which summarises the scrutiny of academic activity across the year by committees and groups that report into the Academic Council. The Statement is submitted to and challenged by the Academic Council prior to submission to the governing body. It then provides a platform for the governing body’s assurance to the Department for the Economy.
The Academic Assurance Statement for 2015/16 brought together external and internal sources of information and assurance. The external sources included:
- The outcome of the QAA Higher Education Review
- Reports from the 14 accreditations in the period undertaken by professional, statutory and regulatory bodies
- The outcomes of the National Student Survey (NSS)
- A summary of the findings from the work of external examiners
The internal sources of assurance included:
- A report on the Annual Programme Review of taught (and research) programmes covering, inter alia, the approval and closure of specific programmes
- The outcome of the Destination of Leavers of Higher Education survey
- The conclusions from two recent and relevant internal audit assignments relating to work placements and examinations.
- Key performance indicators, covering the current year’s performance compared against target and against two prior years, which in this context cover:
- Undergraduate tariff entry data
- Overall dropout rate
- First year dropout
- Degree classifications
- Employment and further study data
- NSS (overall satisfaction)
- Student: staff ratio
The Statement also includes an action plan summarising forthcoming developments relating to, for example, the Teaching Excellence Framework and the University’s academic strategy.
The Queen’s University Academic Assurance Statement gives the governing body confidence in the work of the Academic Council. It also enables the lay governors to triangulate and calibrate the other information relating to teaching and learning and quality and standards that they receive over the course of a year.