A risk-based, proportionate, outcome-driven quality review framework is a vital tool for ensuring the security of academic standards and the quality of learning opportunities for students. UCL’s Quality Review Framework integrates all key processes for monitoring standards, the student experience and strategic quality enhancement activities.
UCL adopts and pursues an explicitly academic-led quality management and enhancement (QME) strategy, which reflects our recognition that the active and critical engagement of our academic staff is central to the fulfilment of our mission. The key features of this academic-led approach to QME are as follows:
- discussion of policy development is conducted, and major decisions are taken, by the academic community working through the committee system;
- our QME processes are based on peer review by fellow academic staff who are active in teaching and research, rather than solely professional administrators;
- there is active involvement of academic staff at all grades in QME operations at department, faculty and institutional levels.
UCL sees quality review and quality enhancement as two aspects of the same process and believes that both must be embedded not only in our structures and processes but also our institutional culture. Quality enhancement at UCL is a process of taking steps at institutional level to improve the quality of learning opportunities, including IT and library provision and staff development opportunities.
The following principles underpin the entire Quality Review Framework:
- Processes for monitoring quality ought to be proportionate to the risk to the student experience and academic standards.
- The framework must ensure that the student interest is being served.
- The framework should respect the academic expertise and administrative professionalism of staff in departments and faculties.
- Students should be engaged in all elements of the framework.
- Processes must be conducted in a consistent and systematic fashion and be underpinned by robust, high quality data.
- The framework should encourage and promote enhancement and sharing good practice.
Key elements of UCL's approach to managing the enhancement of quality include:
- Annual Student Experience Review (ASER);
- Internal Quality Review;
- External Examining;
- Peer Observation of Teaching;
- Student feedback mechanisms, including NSS, PTES, PRES, Student Evaluation Questionnaires and student representation at institutional, faculty and department level committees;
- Committees with quality management responsibilities at institutional, faculty and department levels.
This active involvement in QME processes by academic staff also requires dedicated administrative support. This support is provided principally by Academic Services, who are responsible for the overall co-ordination of UCL's academic-led quality QME operations and committee structures and, through these, for monitoring the processes for assuring and enhancing the academic standards of UCL awards. QME activities permeate all organisational levels of UCL so that Academic Services' role naturally involves extensive interaction with academic departments and faculties, with institutional, faculty and departmental committees with QME roles, and with other parts of UCL's Professional Services with important responsibilities for managing and enhancing the quality of the student experience and staff development (especially the Human Resources Division, and the Information Services Division). Academic Services also liaises on behalf of UCL with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).
The range and structure of QME policies and processes in UCL is extensive and complex. More detail on these can be found in the Academic Manual.