This update contains information on the following topics:
Many thanks to all staff and students involved in our Institutional Teaching and Learning Review, which took place 16-27 January, both as panellists or meeting with panels. This was a major institutional effort, with 786 courses and programmes reviewed, 259 panel members from across the University, and almost 300 students interviewed by panels. Thirty-seven reviews were held in the fortnight, and we are now in the process of receiving the reports from each Review Panel. Heads of Department will be sent their report as soon as they are received by the central ITLR 2017 team, and asked to check the factual accuracy of the content and make a formal response to the report. The themes which emerge from these reports will be used to inform the agenda for the Faculty Engagements in mid-March.
Planning for the Faculty Engagements is underway, with the dates set as follows:
- Faculty of Medicine 10 March
- Faculty of Science 13 March
- Faculty of Arts 14 March
- Faculty of Social Sciences 17 March
These will be ‘round-table’ discussions with specific focus on the key themes which emerge from the ITLR, and will involve representatives from within the departments of the Faculty, a representative from each of the other Faculties, two academic representatives external to the University, and two student representatives from within the Faculty, as well as other colleagues with expertise relevant to the themes to be discussed. The outcomes of discussions at the Faculty Engagements will be used to inform future strategy and planning, and prioritise follow-up actions from the ITLR process.
(a) External Examiners’ Reports
Work continues to implement a SITS development to collect external examiners’ reports and departmental responses with the aim of sharing these more easily via a workflow system with members of the Board of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies to enable them to consider and scrutinise reports more effectively. User acceptance testing will take place in February 2017 with communication to departments and external examiners to be followed in spring 2017 (March/April) ready for implementation for undergraduate and postgraduate external examiners’ reports to be received in June/July 2017 using the new SITS development.
(b) Nominations of new External Examiners and approval
The revised nominations process, approved by Senate in 2015/16 and currently operating as a paper based process for which Guidance can be found at:
will also be administered using a SITS workflow system from the start of the academic year 2017/18. Guidance on the new process to departments will follow in spring 2017 (March/April) after user acceptance testing has been completed in February 2017.
(c) Guidance to External Examiners on duties and responsibilities
The guidance to External Examiners setting out their duties and responsibilities has been updated for the current academic year and the revised guidance has been published at:
External Examiners have been informed in January 2017 by the Exams Office that this guidance would be updated shortly and it will be drawn to their attention again when we communicate with them about the revised external examiners’ report in March/April 2017.
The 17 point marking scale was introduced in 2008 for undergraduate courses; the scale has recently been reviewed by a Working Group of the Board of Undergraduate Studies, taking into consideration comments from external examiners, and a revised scale was approved by the Senate at its meeting on 1 February 2017. The revised 20 point scale will be introduced in 2017/18 for all undergraduate students and allows for a greater range of marks at the upper and lower end, in the first class and fail ranges, than was previously the case. Generic institutional descriptors are provided for marks but from 2017/18, the Scale should be accompanied by explicit criteria set at the departmental (or programme-specific) level to explain the discipline-specific skills and knowledge required to be demonstrated by a student in order for them to achieve the respective points on the scale. The Undergraduate Mark Scale descriptors should be published alongside departmental criteria for use by students, markers and external examiners.
There is some further work to be taken forward in relation to the use of the Scale, including whether it might apply to Level 7 modules taken by students on Masters and Integrated Masters degrees. Details on further developments will be provided in due course.
A Working Group of the Academic Quality and Standards Committee (AQSC) has recently developed a Policy on Lecture Capture, associated Guidance and an updated Consent Form. The Working Group included representation from across the University, including from the Students’ Union and the UCU. The Policy and related documentation were approved by Senate at its meeting on 1 February 2017 and are available here.
Lecture Capture remains opt-in for staff but the University recognises the value that students place on lecture capture.The report to Senate included the outcomes of two WIHEA projects investigating students’ use of lecture capture recordings and summary reports are available here. It was recognised that further work is required on updating Regulation 28 on Intellectual Property Rights, on providing guidance on copyright and on providing support for staff in lecture skills.
In summer 2016, the Quality Assurance Working Group of AQSC considered how borderline cases are treated in exam boards and associated exam board operations. The Group noted the variation of approaches in relation to student anonymity in exam boards and recommended that all exam boars of the University be required to be conducted anonymously (by ID number). Senate approved this approach in February and all exam boards will therefore now need to be conducted anonymously. Colleagues in ITS are aware of this and exam grids produced centrally will therefore be amended accordingly. Section J of the Senate Examination and Degree Conventions has also been updated to include this requirement.
Clarification has been provided as to how penalties on late submission should be applied where assessed work is submitted both electronically and in hard copy but submission of one format meets the deadline and the other does not. Senate has now approved the following:
The issue as to whether a piece of assessed work is submitted on time or late is determined according to the time at which electronic submission is made, except that:
Where a department has exercised its discretion to require work to be submitted only in manuscript, the relevant time is the time when manual submission is made.Where a department requires dual submission, electronically and in manuscript, the relevant time is the time at which the electronic submission is made.
Section F (Submission of Assessed Work) of the Senate Examination and Degree Conventions has been updated to include this requirement.
Following its initial approval in principle of the establishment of a University Course Proposal Scrutiny Panel in 2015, the University Senate approved at its February 2017 meeting concrete plans for the composition of this Panel. The Panel will comprise representatives of all academic departments (i.e. a membership of over 30) and will be chaired by the Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education), Professor David Lamburn. The Panel will also have two Deputy Chairs: the Chairs of the Board of Graduate/Undergraduate Studies, Professor Amanda Dowd and Professor Roger Leng respectively. Each course proposal will be scrutinised by at least three members of the Panel, whose recommendations will inform the decision of the (Deputy) Chair. The Senate also approved the principle of student input into the course proposal consideration taking place at departmental level (a solution supported by the Education and Postgraduate Officers of the Students’ Union).
Initial training will be provided for all new Panel members and will then be provided on an ongoing basis to ensure that Panel members are up-to-date with University and external requirements, but also have an opportunity to come together and share their experiences of reviewing course proposals. Panel members will be expected to serve for at least two years to enable them to develop expertise, which would also be valuable in developing course proposals within their own departments. A call for nominees to serve on the University Course Proposal Scrutiny Panel will be issued in due course, to enable a Pilot of the new system to run in Term 3 of the academic year 2016-17. For more information about the Panel or the new course proposal process, please contact Martin Mik email@example.com
Work on academic departments’ course specifications in the database has progressed well with nearly all UG and PGT courses now having up to date course specifications available to view on the Teaching Quality webpages. Work is now taking place on migrating the course specifications from the database into SITS in line with the new course approval process and should be completed by the start of the new academic year 2017.
The CMA Working Group continues its work supporting staff and students’ understanding of how to meet the requirements of applying consumer protection law at Warwick. In the last edition of this newsletter we announced the launch of a Moodle course available to all staff and students to refresh their knowledge, requesting particularly that it be integrated into departmental induction arrangements for new staff and that existing staff be strongly encouraged to take it. Further information is now available at http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/aro/cpl/
The webpage includes information about how to arrange access for colleagues who may not be Warwick staff but who are employed through partner institutions or on a more flexible basis, but whose awareness of institutional requirements ought nonetheless to be current. Colleagues working on CMA matters will be in touch with departments in due course to identify such colleagues to whom a particular invitation to do the course ought to be extended. Directors of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies in particular are asked to give specific consideration to individuals in these categories and to work to ensure their access to the course. Consideration should also be given to students employed as ambassadors, bloggers or who use social media formally on behalf of a department to ensure that where they, too, are acting on behalf of the University or department, they are able to access the module to be apprised of their responsibilities.
A further area where work remains on-going relates to course approval and the timing of changes to courses in the light of undertakings made in marketing and recruitment literature where changes may override information published in relation to course content. Efforts are being made to institute a systematic approach to considering course changes of a variety of kinds and working with colleagues in SROAS who are inevitably leading on advising applicants and offer-holders of changes to ensure that this is done in an effective and timely fashion.
Any queries should be directed firstname.lastname@example.org
Reporting of Stage 1 Complaints
As of October 2015, the University was expected to demonstrate a better understanding of frontline complaints resolution, promote and share best practice and produce evidence-based reports on lessons learned from monitoring internal complaints handling, including reference to Stage 1 informal complaints as outlined by the following external publications and guidance:
- The Competition and Markets Authority guidance for Higher Education institutions requires complaints handling processes and practices to be fair and accessible, with staff having sufficient training to ensure that processes are followed;
- The OIA Good Practice Framework states as a Principle that a good complaints process improves the student experience and captures learning to ensure that decisions are made consistently and at the appropriate level, appropriate action is taken on issues identified and information gathered is used to improve services for students and the student experience;
- The QAA Quality Code for Higher Education stresses the importance of monitoring and evaluating complaints procedures, as set out in Indicator 7: “Higher Education providers monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of their appeals and complaints procedures and reflect on the outcomes of those procedures for enhancement purposes”.
Taking into account the above guidance on best practice, since Summer 2016 Warwick has been piloting a Stage 1 Local Resolution Response Form with 10 academic and service departments across the University. At the meeting of the Quality Assurance Working Group on 20th October 2016, this method of recording Stage 1 complaints made under the Student Complaints Resolution Procedure was approved for roll-out across the institution. Members of staff in academic and administrative departments are therefore encouraged to log all Stage 1 complaints on the Stage 1 Frontline/Local Resolution Response Form found here:
Completion of this form should take no longer than 5 minutes in each instance and should be completed when the definition of a student complaint is met and the department has respond to the complaint with an outcome. A complaint is defined under the Student Complaints Resolution Procedure as “an expression of significant or sustained dissatisfaction where a student seeks action to address the problem”.
Briefing Sessions for the Student Complaint Resolution Pathway
This term we shall be running a number of sessions providing an overview of the three-stage Student Complaints Resolution Pathway covering the following key areas relating to student complaints:
- The importance of feedback
- What is a complaint?
- Who can make a complaint?
- Overview of the three-stages in the University procedure
- The University’s Student Complaints team (who’s who)
- The focus on early resolution
- Stage 1 (local resolution) – Logging complaints (*new reporting guidelines*)
- Possibilities for mediation
- Timescales for dealing with cases
- Using complaints to improve services
- The OIA, CMA and the wider context
Related aspects- e.g. data protection, anonymous complaints, confidentiality
Two sessions have taken place with a further session as below:
Thursday 9 March 2017 2-3pm (Q&A till 3.30) in CMR 1.1
There will also be a more in-depth session aimed at members of staff who are required to investigate Stage 2 complaints within their departments to be held on Thursday 16th March 2017 in CMR 1.1 between 11-12.30pm.
To register to attend a briefing session, please follow the link below:
If you have any questions relating to the logging of Stage 1 Complaints or the Briefing Sessions, or would like a member of the Student Complaints Team to provide a departmental or team briefing, please email email@example.com or contact Steph Waldron, Administrative Officer (Complaints Resolution) on extension 73214.
The Academic Governance Review Group commenced its work in December and is gathering information in a number of areas. Some decisions relating to AQSC Working Groups and the Collaborative, Flexible and Distributed Learning Sub-Committee have already been taken and in the coming weeks the Group will be looking at other committees within Faculty and institutional structures. The intention is to develop a series of recommendations for consultation across the University community in the late spring/early summer with a view to final recommendations being made to the Senate by the end of the current academic year.