Quality Assurance, Quality Enhancement and Scottish HEIs
Scottish HEIs are expected to have in place systems and processes for the quality assurance and quality enhancement of academic provision and the student learning experience.
Quality assurance (QA) is concerned with the establishment and maintenance of conditions that serve as the basis for monitoring provision and intervention, where necessary.
Quality enhancement (QE) is concerned with the strategic and deliberate process of taking steps to bring about continuous improvement.
Quality assurance and quality enhancement are closely related. QMU policies, procedures and regulations have been designed and are kept under review to maintain a strong enhancement focus, whilst also providing assurance.
Our Student Experience Strategy for the period 2021-26 sets out our commitment to quality enhancement through the following high level objectives. These are developed further through an annual Delivery Plan, which includes specific and time bound actions.
- Develop our Quality Enhancement Framework plus associated resources and support to ensure continued alignment with QMU and sector priorities.
- Maximise staff and student engagement with quality enhancement activities.
- Build on existing good practice in representation/closing the feedback loop.
The arrangements for quality assurance and enhancement in the Scottish sector are currently under review (June 2023), following a review of coherence and sustainability in tertiary education undertaken by the Scottish Funding Council.
The arrangements detailed below (Scottish Quality Enhancement Framework) applied in full until the end of the academic year 2021-22.The Enhancement -led Institutional Review (ELIR) methodology was superseded in 2022 by the Quality Enhancement and Standards Review (QESR).
Quality Enhancement and Standards Review
QMU participated in phase one of the QESR in November 2022. Our QESR report (phase one) was published on the Quality Assurance Agency's (QAA) website in February 2023. The overarching judgement within the report is a judgement of confidence that Queen Margaret University is making effective progress in continuing to monitor, review and enhance its higher education provision to enable effective arrangements to be in place for managing academic standards and the quality of the student experience.
The report identifies five areas of good practice and three recommendations for action. The Student Experience Committee (SEC) has agreed an action plan for responding to the recommendations. SEC will oversee the implementation of this plan. There will be opportunity to discuss progress against the plan at our annual Institutional Liaison Meetings with QAA Scotland. The action plan will also form part of the evidence base for QESR phase two, which is expected to commence in academic year 2024-25.
Scottish Quality Enhancement Framework (under review)
The Scottish Quality Enhancement Framework (QEF) comprises the five following inter-related features:
- Enhancement-led Institutional Review (ELIR) conducted on a four/five-year cycle, which provides information on the security of the institution’s procedures for the management of quality and standards and is focused on the institution's strategic management of quality enhancement. QMU’s most recent (and final) ELIR report (published in August 2018) confirms that the University has effective arrangements for managing academic standards and the student learning experience and that these arrangements are likely to continue to be effective in the future. The 'effectiveness' judgement is the highest of three possible conclusions available to ELIR review panels. As such, it represents a very positive outcome. QMU’s year-on response to ELIR is also publicly available.
- A comprehensive framework of internal subject reviews in Scottish HEIs, with details of methodology delegated to institutions but including a clear role for the views of students, the use of trained reviewers and the involvement of external reviewers.
- The systematic involvement of students at all levels in the institution, together with the training and support of student representatives and national surveys of the student experience. Support for student involvement is provided by sparqs, a national development service that provides training for student representatives and advice on student engagement in quality processes.
- Quality enhancement activities, which take the form of a structured programme involving all Scottish HEIs and based on sector-identified Enhancement Themes.
- The publication of clear, accurate and accessible information on the quality of learning and teaching.