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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – support and guidance

The overarching theme for UK-wide membership activities in 2020-21 is Resilience, Innovation, Enhancement, helping members to develop organisational resilience through innovative approaches to quality assurance and enhancement.

 

We will work jointly with all our members and partners across the UK, sharing learning from devolved nations and international partners, supporting new ideas and models for innovation, and providing opportunities to network and share practice.

 

This is complemented by additional nation-specific work, in particular the new Enhancement Theme in Scotland - Resilient Learning Communities - that will commence early in the new academic year.

 

Membership in 2020-21 builds on the materials published in 2019-20 to create further guidance, resources and opportunities to network and share practice, exclusively for members during the new academic year.

Areas of interest for 2020-21

Embracing the overarching theme, the membership programme will focus on five key interest areas which feature across all membership packages: Core Membership, Quality Insights and International Insights.

 

These areas of interest have been developed in consultation with members and informed by QAA’s Quality Specialists, horizon scanning and emerging sector policy. Our work will be driven and shaped by the significant changes to the delivery of higher education and evolving practice in quality assurance and enhancement following the COVID-19 crisis, particularly in relation to modes of study and the need for flexibility in the provision of learning and assessment.

 

We will continue to work with our members to safeguard academic standards across UK higher education.

  • Working proactively with government, UKSCQA and other agencies to ensure that key issues are understood and embedded in new policy initiatives and other developments.
  • Working with members to keep the UK Quality Code for Higher Education and other sector reference points relevant.
  • Providing thought leadership on standards and quality to support members in responding to contemporary challenges.
  • Collaborating to produce guidance that provides solutions to current challenges and opportunities for innovation.

In 2020-21 we will extend our work on student engagement in quality through wider collaboration with students’ unions, student representative bodies, higher education staff and students. Through this work, we will prepare and support student representatives and sabbatical officers at member institutions to engage meaningfully in quality assurance and enhancement processes.

In 2020-21 we will build on our work to support members in embedding new quality assurance processes and practices. We will develop new guidance and toolkits, and identify effective practice on how to use data to improve student experience, to evidence outcomes and inform risk-based monitoring. There will be particular focus on: 

  • data sources and their relevance to, and application in, quality and standards
  • using risk evaluation and data to develop internal quality assurance and enhancement processes
  • quality enhancement-led approaches. 

QAA will continue its campaign to combat essay mills and other threats to academic integrity. We will build on the revised guidance on contract cheating published in June 2020 and endorsed by government ministers across the UK to support members in their efforts to detect and deter cheating and maintain academic integrity. 

We will liaise with governments, sector bodies and expert academics, and develop communities of practice with members to guide policy development and institutional practice. 

QAA will continue work with governments, agencies and institutions around the world to benefit UK higher education and its international reputation, advancing UK higher education’s leadership and voice in global quality assurance and enhancement.

Cross-cutting activities

Each year, QAA Members have access to a series of core activities that cut across our annual areas of interest.

We provide opportunities for all staff with a direct or indirect responsibility for quality assurance and enhancement to keep their internal knowledge and skills relevant and current. 

 

In addition to training on specific topics, QAA Membership offers the chance for staff and students to participate in two specially designed training programmes:

  • Introduction to Quality - for new quality team members, academics and other staff who need to understand the role of quality in higher education.  
  • Quality in Practice - for individuals who have worked in quality assurance for at least two years, to support them in developing practical techniques across the key elements of higher education quality assurance and enhancement.

Each programme will run three times in 2020-21 and is open to all staff and students at member institutions. Places are limited to one per institution, per programme.

 

Following positive feedback about our new virtual delivery model, together with the travel-related time and cost savings to members, we have decided to continue our online approach in 2020-21. Each programme will take place across a period of 10 days allowing participants to engage flexibly in both asynchronous and synchronous activities. 

 

Our horizon scanning function keeps members up to date on emerging policy, global trends and issues and the implications for quality assurance and enhancement. This includes:

  • Termly written briefings - in-depth analysis of two or three topical issues from a quality enhancement and standards perspective, highlighting the implications for UK higher education providers. 
  • Monthly headline webinars - updates on QAA Membership activities; a round-up of recent news and global trends that have a quality and standards perspective, together with more in-depth analysis on the quality enhancement and standards implications of one of the most relevant topics.

Dedicated online clinics provide members with direct access to QAA Quality and Standards specialists.

 

 

We offer networking opportunities that bring together UK higher education quality professionals, from both academic and professional services backgrounds, to share innovative approaches, develop knowledge and benefit from the expert guidance of QAA’s team, building strong communities of practice across the UK. These include:

  • bi-annual Regional Network events in England
  • three Wales Quality Network meetings
  • engagement in Scotland through the Quality Enhancement Framework in which QAA Scotland works in partnership with the Scottish Funding Council, Universities Scotland, NUS (Scotland), sparqs and AdvanceHE
  • member networking events in Northern Ireland will be introduced in 2020-21.

We promote and develop the Access to HE Diploma, which brings more than 23,000 students into higher education each year, many from under-represented groups, improving routes to higher education. 

 

In 2020-21 we will reframe current approaches to the effective management of the QAA Recognition Scheme for Access to HE, collaborating with Access Validating Agencies to adjust to the longer-term implications of COVID-19.

Our regular forum events strengthen engagement with PSRBs across the higher education sector. The forums facilitate discussion and provide a platform for resolution of issues relating to accreditation and qualification challenges, particularly when planning for more flexible delivery of higher education.

Find out more about this flagship event in the Quality Insights section.

 

 

Find out more

For a detailed description of the guidance, supporting webinars, training and resources available to you as a member, please see the QAA Membership Brochure for your home nation.

 

 

Our Membership Calendar 2020-21 offers a month-by-month guide to the many membership activities planned, across our key areas of interest.