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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

Podcast transcript: UK Quality Code consultation goes live 


DN: Daniel Nicholls
MD: Melinda Drowley
AL: Anett Loescher
GBR: Dr Geoffrey Barker-Read
CS: Colin Stanfield
AS: Adrian Smith
BP: Bridgette Pollard
SQ: Steven Quigley
KC: Kirsty Conlon

DN: Hello, and welcome to another QAA podcast, I am Daniel Nicholls of the Quality Assurance Agency. On the 22 December 2011, the Consultation for Part C of the UK Quality Code went live. Five consultation events were held in early 2012, across the breadth of the UK, and we will be getting to the bottom of some core questions. I am joined by Melinda Drowley, Head of Standards, Quality and Enhancement and Anett Loescher, Development Officer, both of the Quality Assurance Agency. Hello ladies.

AL: Good morning.

MD: Good morning.

DN: I wonder if you could help us with a few questions that our listeners have. The first is just what is Part C of the UK Quality Code?

AL: Well Part C is an entirely new part of the UK Quality Code for Higher Education and it deals with information about higher education provision.

MD: It sets out an expectation that all providers of UK Higher Education are supposed to meet and the expectation is indeed that providers produce information about the higher education experience they offer that is valid, reliable, useful and accessible.

AL: We also set out 11 indicators of sound practice which are there to provide helpful suggestions and guidance for every sort of higher education provider, so that they can meet the expectation that we have set out in the Quality Code.

DN: Okay, now Anett, how can people get involved?

AL: We have been running consultation events which have seen quite a lot of attendance throughout the UK. At the moment our consultation is still open until 24 February this year, so everyone is welcome to access the internet, look at our QAA homepage and find the consultation and the survey there.

DN: I asked Doctor Geoffrey Barker-Read of the University of Leeds and Colin Stanfield of Runshaw College just why Part C of the UK Quality Code is important to them and their institutions.

GBR: It provides us with the opportunity to explain to potential students and to other members of the public what it is about Leeds University that is distinctive and sets us apart from other institutions in the UK.

CS: I think like all institutions we are struggling with the concept of information, and public information. We are subject currently to IQER and over the years public information has assumed a major significance within that and of course, we are also working towards KIS requirements at the moment, and so today has been a useful exercise to see how this element of the code dovetails, or doesn't as the case may be, with KIS requirements.

DN: Secondly I posed the question, 'does Part C meet the needs of your institution?' to Adrian Smith of the London School of Theology and Bridgette Pollard of Greenwich School of Management. Up first is Adrian.

AS: I think so, but one of the real things that I have taken away from today has been this sense that the Quality Code and in particular Part C, which is what we have been looking at, is written in such a way that it is not a prescriptive document that says every institution must do it this way, but is a real attempt to, as it says, to provide some expectations of what it may look like, provide a framework for us to do that, but coming away today with a greater understanding that Part C as we have it at the moment, I'm sure it will evolve and continue to evolve, but will enable small providers like the institution that I am in, do and provide the same information as a university with 10,000 undergraduates inside. I think it has been a very, very helpful document and a very helpful day.

DN: Okay, thank you Adrian.

BP: Yes, in fact I am quite looking forward to going back and sharing some of the things we have learnt today with other colleagues, in terms of how they can help to market the institution, but areas that they need to look at specifically in their own operations, which we will be required to publish in the future. So it gives people an opportunity to be focusing more specifically now that the information needs to be available publicly.

DN: Finally I asked Steven Quigley of Regents College and Kirsty Conlon of the University of Scotland: does Part C meet the diverse needs of providers across the breadth of the UK?

SQ: I think it meets the needs of not only the English providers but other countries involved in the UK as well. The range of different providers that are represented here today included not only the universities but also the newly recognised private providers including not for profit organisations, like Regent's College, and others who are also for profit and I think it is getting the balance across that that provides a solid framework for us all to move forward.

DN: That is brilliant thank you.

KC: Yeah, I think oddly it does, I think one thing I was really pleased to see was that it is at quite an overview level which I think is important given the differences between the sectors in different parts of the UK; we have some things in common, but some things are a bit different, so we are going to be introducing Key Information Sets in Scotland, but our wider information set might be subtly different to the one in England, and also things change so I think it is important to not just have a Code that kind of ossifies what is happening now, but can cope with change in the future and in that way embodies principles. And also we won't have a judgement as such on public information, which I think they will in the rest of the UK, but it is important that the Code can accommodate that fact, obviously reviews will look at public information but they are not part of the judgements.

DN: I hope you have enjoyed listening to this podcast. Remember the Part C Consultation closes at midnight on 24 February; for more information on Part C, or the wider UK Quality Code, please visit the QAA website, marked Assurance, Standards and Quality, UK Quality Code for Higher Education. Thank you once again for listening, and please listen out for more podcasts on the UK Quality Code.

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