Augmented Annual Monitoring at UCL

contact: Sandra Hinton, Quality Assurance Manager, Academic Services, Student and Registry Services


1 Introduction

1.1 To be truly effective, all quality management and enhancement (QME) processes must be embedded, integrated and ongoing and should involve a combination of regular monitoring and review over a longer period.

1.2 At UCL, regular monitoring of programmes is undertaken in the form of Annual Monitoring (AM). The AM process provides an opportunity for self-evaluation, self-reflection, scrutiny and reporting upwards of key issues at module, programme, department, faculty and institutional levels. AM is carried out for all UCL taught programmes.

1.3 AM also involves, in an agreed cycle (every five years), an element of ‘Augmented' Annual Monitoring (AugAM), whereby all Programme Organisers in a department produce an augmented report summarising developments in the programme over the review period by drawing on the evidence provided by the four previous AM reports (AMRs). In the year in question these augmented reports are substituted for, not additional to, the normal Programme Organisers' AMRs.

1.4 The AugAM procedure also involves a person external to UCL, (the ‘External Scrutineer') who is asked to comment upon the Programme Organiser's augmented report and accompanying documentation.

1.5 Finally, AugAM informs UCL's process of departmental Internal Quality Review (IQR) which addresses larger scale issues regarding the quality structures and processes of departments in a developmental and strategic way.

2 Purposes of Augmented Annual Monitoring

2.1 The purposes of UCL's AugAM process are to:

  • enable Programme Organisers to evaluate, comment upon and monitor the impact on their taught programmes of cumulative, incremental change over a longer review period and to identify further opportunities for enhancement of the student learning experience;
  • enable UCL to undertake a broader review of the continuing validity and relevance of programmes offered;
  • allow for external advice and commentary on any questions which may arise;
  • allow academic staff to enhance the planning dimension of the programme evaluation process;
  • promote greater consistency in quality monitoring processes across UCL and ensure that procedures are in place to identify and act upon any consistent themes which emerge;
  • provide a crucial source of evidence that UCL's internal QME processes are robust and effective;
  • enable UCL to meet both internal and external requirements1 for a periodic review procedure which is embedded and ongoing and is sufficiently robust to withstand external scrutiny.

3 Principles of Augmented Annual Monitoring

3.1 The essential principles of AugAM are that it should:

  • serve as a genuine aid to departments in enhancing the quality of their provision and of the student learning experience by (i) enabling reflection on issues arising in the previous four academic years, (ii) enabling feedback from students, staff and External Examiners to be discussed and considered and (iii) by emphasising action taken (or to be taken) on issues arising;
  • reinforce essential academic responsibility for monitoring the continuing relevance of programmes whilst also facilitating appropriate monitoring at department, faculty and institutional levels;
  • contain an essential external component2; an External Scrutineer, who is asked to comment upon an Programme Organiser's augmented report and supporting documentation;
  • maximise efficiency and effectiveness by building upon the existing AM process in order to avoid unnecessary burdens on staff;
  • contain no 'programme approval' or 're-validation' element;
  • be articulated with the IQR procedure by ensuring that the augmented reports of all programmes within a department be undertaken in the year preceding the department's IQR;
  • be conducted in a consistent, systematic and comparable way across UCL by means of (i) a clear, published ‘Procedure for the Conduct of AugAM (ii) the use of a proforma for the Programme Organisers' augmented report, (iii) the use of a proforma for the External Scrutineer's Report (iv) the central provision of statistical data by Student Data Services to inform the process.

4 Details of the Annual and Augmented Annual Monitoring Procedures

4.1 For details of the AugAM procedure and the AM policy and procedure please see:

4.2 Further information on AM and AugAM is also available from Academic Services (AS): contact Sandra Hinton [Quality Assurance Manager, Academic Services – telephone 0207 679 8590/internal extension 28590] or Jason Clarke (Director, Academic services - telephone 0207 679 8594/internal extension 28594].

August 2012

1 Programmes offered must continue to meet the academic standards set both by UCL and the relevant external bodies, which in the case of UCL includes assuring itself that its internal QME procedures are fit for purpose and also satisfy the requirements of the QAA and the various professional and statutory bodies.

2 The QAA Quality Code for Higher Education: Chapter B8 Programme Monitoring and Review, Indicator 3 states Institutions must make use of external participation at key stages for the review of programmes, as independence and objectivity are essential to provide confidence that the standards and quality of the programmes are appropriate..