Quality assurance and enhancement

General principles

The teaching quality management structure is underpinned by the following general principles:

  • that continuous improvement of the student experience is at the core of all quality assurance and enhancement activities
  • that all members of staff take a personal responsibility for the quality of their contribution to the student experience

Main components

  • The formation of a quality framework to ensure consistency of standards whilst enabling appropriate diversity in local practice.
  • A teaching quality management structure designed to support quality assurance and enhancement and foster a culture of critical review and reflection.

Framework aims and purpose

The formation of a quality framework ensures consistency of standards whilst enabling appropriate diversity in local practice.

The University’s quality framework is developed and maintained by the Academic Quality and Standards Committee (AQSC) and managed by the Quality and Academic Development team (QUAD). The framework, constructed with due regard to the QAA's UK Quality Code for Higher Education, consists of five key elements:

  • Approval
  • Annual Review of Courses (ARCs)
  • Periodic Reviews
  • External Examiners
  • Student Representation and Feedback 

These five elements are further supported by guidelines governing specialist areas, such as work-based or distance learning.

The purpose of the quality framework is to enable the monitoring and enhancement of academic standards and the quality of the student experience. The framework operates within the context of established standards, determined by Senate, and expressed within the University’s undergraduate and postgraduate taught Rules of Assessment, credit frameworks, assessment policies and marking policy.

The framework is aimed at ensuring that there is equivalence in the security of degree-awarding function across all University of Essex degrees, whether students study at the University itself or at partner institutions. Within the overarching structure of the Quality Framework, there is flexibility to accommodate variation at the level of the faculty, department, centre or partner institution, as long as the required outcomes are not compromised.

The ongoing effectiveness of the Framework is kept under review by AQSC in light of internal experience and external best practice.

Governance structures

A teaching quality management structure is designed to support quality assurance and enhancement and foster a culture of critical review and reflection.

Committees of Senate

The teaching quality management structure has, at its pinnacle, the University’s Senate. Beneath Senate, teaching quality is managed by:

Education Committee

The Education Committee is responsible to Senate for the development and recommendation for approval by Senate of the University’s Education Strategy and for oversight and monitoring of the Strategy’s effective implementation.

The committee has a number of key responsibilities in relation to the University’s commitment to excellence in Education, including consideration of issues related to all aspects of Education policy and practice across all University awards and oversight of the quality of the student experience in the broadest sense.

Academic Quality and Standards Committee (AQSC)

The Academic Quality and Standards Committee (AQSC) supports the development and maintenance of the University’s policies and procedures for assuring academic quality on behalf of Education Committee. AQSC approve, monitor, review and discontinue all University of Essex Awards, including those of partners.

Faculty Education Committees

Each of the three Faculties has a Faculty Education Committee (FEC), which is responsible for oversight and delivery of all aspects of the University’s Education Strategy within the Faculty.

Reporting to the Education Committee, the FECs provide a forum for discussion of student and education-related matters in the Faculty and strengthen academic links between Departments, Schools, and Centres within the Faculty, across the University and with collaborative partners.

The committees also recommend, for approval by AQSC, proposals to establish, change and discontinue taught programmes of study, and ensure the effective implementation of the University’s academic quality and enhancement policies, procedures and activity and the student experience.

Student Experience Committee (SEC) 

The Student Experience Committee (SEC) consider issues related to the student experience in its broadest sense on behalf of Education Committee, providing a forum for the oversight of mechanisms for harnessing and championing the student voice.

Departments, partners and other teaching units

Departments, partners and other teaching units are responsible directly for the quality of the student experience.

Executive and Deputy Deans

The Executive and Deputy Deans of the Faculties form a key role in liaison between the different tiers of the decision-making process. The Deputy Deans (Education) are key members of AQSC and also sit on the Education Committee, while the Executive Deans chair the FECs.

Deans maintain an overview of the quality of teaching and learning within teaching units, and take forward any actions arising from this. Both within and outside the formal committee structure, Deans encourage the dissemination of good practice and consult Faculties, departments and collaborative partners on proposed University-level policy developments.

Deans also play a central role in quality assurance procedures and are responsible for overseeing the annual and periodic process of course review, departmental response to external examiners and the outcomes of student feedback mechanisms.

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Quality and Academic Development
Telephone: 01206 874861