University gets major vote of confidence
The University of Lincoln has received the highest level of commendation possible for its academic standards and quality of learning opportunities following this year’s audit of the institution by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).
Two ‘confidence’ judgements, the maximum which can be awarded by the QAA, have been confirmed in a letter to the University, ahead of the publication of the full audit report in August 2008. The QAA placed confidence in the University’s ‘management of the academic standards of its awards’ and ‘management of the quality of the learning opportunities available to students’.
A panel from the QAA – an independent body with a responsibility for safeguarding the public interest in sound standards of higher education qualifications – conducted the audit during January and March 2008. The panel of academic experts from other universities met staff and students from across the University and tested out a range of the organisation’s systems and processes.
Paying tribute to the University’s staff and students the University of Lincoln’s Vice Chancellor, Professor David Chiddick, said: “This really is an outstanding result. It is a national and public endorsement of academic quality assurance and standards at the University of Lincoln.
“Taken together with the latest accreditations in Architecture and Nursing and the recent award of a major grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for a project on Learning Landscapes, everyone can be proud and ‘confident’ of the national standing and potential of this institution.”
Senior Pro Vice Chancellor Professor Mike Saks, who was responsible for coordinating the audit, highlighted a number of areas of good practice identified in the panel’s letter as a further endorsement of his colleagues’ achievements. These include, amongst others, ‘the pervasive and integrated approach to the management of the quality of learning opportunities which has engaged all areas of the institution and contributed to the ongoing and dynamic development of the University’.
The QAA uses the term ‘academic standards’ to refer to the level of achievement that a student has to reach to gain an academic award, such as a degree, which should be at a similar level across the UK. ‘Academic quality’ refers to how well the learning opportunities available to students help them to achieve their award by making sure that appropriate and effective teaching, support, assessment and learning opportunities are provided for them.
Institutional audits are conducted by the QAA on all universities in the UK on a five yearly cycle and are designed to ensure that institutions are providing higher education, awards and qualifications of an acceptable quality and an appropriate academic standard, and are exercising their legal powers to award degrees in a proper manner. The University’s first institutional audit was in 2003 when – although then only part way towards its establishment in Lincoln - it obtained broad confidence from the QAA.
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