The fundamental building block of academic assurance at UWE is a culture, based on a clear direction set by the Vice-Chancellor, of openness and transparency with the Board. Key principles are no surprises, listening to students, and ready access to information and people. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost plays a key role – she provides overall briefings on UWE provision, presentations on the nature of academic life at UWE, and detailed briefings on the work of the NSS Taskforce.
A key element of the arrangements is the existence of a Board Committee, the Strategic Planning, and Performance (SPP) Committee – this Committee, chaired by the Board Deputy Chair, looks in more detail at key aspects of performance both academic and non-academic. It reviewed in depth the assurance statement from Academic Board, looked at the University’s submission for QAA review and was provided with examples of Departmental action plans which had been generated from the NSS Taskforce review. They also considered the Performance on a Page (the key set of indicators (KPIs) produced for all academic departments) as well as the aggregates of those KPIs. The Committee has also looked at the BME attainment gap and plans to tackle it. The University is currently developing a new Enhancement Framework – based on 6 key principles and it is anticipated that, when finalised, it will go via SPP to the Board for endorsement.
The Board also receives, at each meeting, a Vice-Chancellor update, where the Vice-Chancellor describes any key events and members can discuss topics or call for more detailed reports (Teaching Excellence Framework, Research Excellence Framework, the Office for Students, etc.). Use is also made of governor awaydays to inform the Board – with the next one due to consider four topics, namely Campus Culture, Recruitment and Performance, Engagement with the City of Bristol, and Mental Health
The Board receives ‘soft ‘assurance from the operation of the Student/ Governor Forum. This is a Forum that reports to the Board, consists of 15 or so students, is chaired by Student Union President with the agenda set by the students. There are three governors who are members, but any member can attend. Academic Assurance is further supported by students through a comprehensive system of student representation, with paid representatives reporting into a Student council, which in turn has a regular slot at Academic Board.