The transformation of the quality management landscape continues with great rapidity and intensity in a sector buffeted by daily media headlines and in the midst of potentially seismic changes affecting the sector as a whole. As the new regulator for English Higher Education, the Office for Students continues to adopt a bold, student-focused, risk-based approach, reflecting the significant changes to HE in the last 25 years and seeking to anticipate changes still to come.
Familiar features – notably, the UK Quality Code – have been subject to a fundamental review with QSN Executive members contributing to 11 out of the 12 Quality Code Theme Writing Groups.
The increasing numbers of degree students gaining first and upper second class degrees has been the focus of media headlines, reporting and a recent consultation about putative grade inflation. The latter includes a proposed sector statement about how to protect the value of the honours degree qualifications over time and once again raises the question of effective externality.
As part of the new regulatory framework for HE in England, QAA has been designated to carry out the quality and assessment functions set out in the Higher Education and Research Act 2017 and we now understand the parameters within which QAA will operate in performing these functions. New and existing providers continue to apply to be on the ‘register’. There is also the question of the extent to which this very Anglo centric agenda impacts the rest of the UK.
The TEF has seen a second year of subject-level pilot and we are eagerly awaiting the results of the independent review of TEF being conducted by Dame Shirley Pearce. The Augar review has been published with its more than 50 recommendations. Unsurprisingly, the QAA has moved to a new membership model. TNE in-country review is still on the radar but with clarity required on how it will be funded. Added to this we may soon be navigating Brexit and attempting to ensure that funding mechanisms to support research excellence remain, our global rankings are sustained, academic talent from the EU is retained and universities’ ability to drive growth and generate jobs are not hampered.
These ‘hot topics’ all impact quality practitioners and this year’s conference seeks to enable us to engage across a broad spectrum of current issues. However, our conference will also consider the question of what the changes require of us, as senior quality professionals. In the midst of this uncertainty, what can we do to help secure student success and maintain academic standards?
We are delighted that our Keynote Address this year will be given by Dr John Cater, Vice-Chancellor, Edge Hill University, whose expertise in sector development and leadership will be of great value to us with the changes we face. We also look forward to welcoming Professor Sue Reece, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Student Experience), Staffordshire University, Professor Paul Bartholomew, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education), Ulster University, Jennie Walmsley, Data and Research Officer, QAA, Luke Myer, NUS Higher Education Zone Committee, Dr Geoff Stoakes, Head of Special Projects, Advance HE, Douglas Blackstock, Chief Executive, QAA, Rebecca Rhodes, Senior Associate from the University Validation Awards Council (UVAC), Jim Dickinson, Associate Editor, WonkHE, Sam Hardy, Head of Degree Apprenticeships at the University of Warwick and Graeme Rosenberg, Head of TEF, The Office for Students.
As ever, this QSN event offers the opportunity for colleagues to get together in a constructive and supportive environment and I look forward greatly to welcoming new and returning delegates to our 14th Annual Conference.
Chair of QSN
|12:30||Arrival & Registration|
|13:30||Opening of Conference|
|Welcome from the Chair and Deputy Chair of QSN, Lee Jones and Dr Victoria Korzeniowska|
|13:35 – 14:05||Keynote Speech – Dr John Cater, Vice-Chancellor, Edge Hill University
Present Tense, Future Imperfect? Universities in an Age of Reform
|14:05 – 14:35||Professor Sue Reece, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Student Experience), Staffordshire University
Managing the quality of the student experience: it needs to sit with the whole institution
|14:35 – 15:05||Professor Paul Bartholomew, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education), Ulster University
Enhancement from an Ulster University HE Perspective
|15:05 – 15:35||Jim Dickinson, Associate Editor, WonkHE
Is Higher Education going to hell in a handcart – understanding the political and policy environment we’re in
|15:35 – 16:15||Refreshments – New QSN members join QSN Executive Members over tean and coffee|
|16:15 – 16:45||Panel Discussion: What are the implications of managing quality in the context of a VFM agenda and reduced student fees?
Dr John Cater, Professor Paul Bartholomew, Professor Sue Reece, Mr Luke Myer, Dr Geoff Stoakes, Douglas Blackstock and Jim Dickinson
|17:00 – 18:00||Workshop: What are the implications of managing quality in the context of a VFM agenda and reduced student fees?
Workshop sessions will be facilitated by members of the QSN Executive
|19:15||Champagne Reception in Bar – Sponsored by Achievability|
After Dinner Reflections
|08:30||QSN Annual General Meeting|
|08:55||Welcome from the Chair and Deputy Chair of QSN, Lee Jones and Dr Victoria Korzeniowska|
|09:00 – 09:25||Douglas Blackstock – Chief Executive, QAA
Sustainability of the Quality Brand of UK Higher Education
|09:25 – 09:50||Jennie Walmsley, Data and Research Officer, Evaluation and Analytics Team, QAA
The data revolutions in Higher Education – the golden opportunity for quality
|09:55 – 10:30||Luke Myer – Member of NUS’s Higher Education Zone Committee
Student participation in national quality assurance, and the positive impact for the sector, and for our wider society
|10:30 – 11:00||Refreshment break and interaction with workshop outcomes in the lounge|
|11:00 – 11:30||Rebecca Rhodes, Senior Associate, UVAC
Working Title TBC
|11:30 – 12:20||Parallel facilitated workshops|
|12:20 – 13:10||Parallel facilitated workshops|
|13:10||Final Conference Plenary, highlighting key issues for QSN. Closing remarks
Conference evaluation facilitated by Achievability
|13:20||Lunch and departure|
Friday, 20 September, 2019 – 11:30, repeated 12:20
|No.||Workshop Title||Indicative Content|
|1||QSN Module Evaluation Special Interest Group
|Colleagues with an interest in module evaluation and, in particular, the software available and widely used to support module evaluation are invited to this 3rd meeting of the QSN Module Evaluation SIG.
The format will be a presentation followed by the opportunity for discussion. he topic will be agreed by members of the SIG at their second meeting on 19 July 2019.
|2||Protecting the value of undergraduate degrees: the contribution of external examining
External Speaker: Dr Geoff Stoakes, Head of Special Projects, Advance HE
|Increasing numbers of degree students gaining first and upper second class degrees has been the subject of much speculation about putative grade inflation over the past few years.
Ensuring that degrees do not lose their value over time is now a condition of continued registration with the Office for Students (OfS) for higher education providers in England and the TEF now requires institutions to address grade inflation data. Strengthened external examining is one way of ensuring against the erosion of academic standards. The Degree Standards project, led by Advance HE, and managed by the Office for Students on behalf of the English, Welsh and Northern Ireland administrations has developed professional development packages for external examiners.
This session will summarise the key achievements of the project so far and the main challenges it faces and explore how far a strengthened external examining system can prevent the erosion of academic standards.
|3||Subject level TEF – Implications for quality
External Speaker: Graeme Rosenberg, Head of TEF, Office for Students
|The session will cover the findings of the second subject-level TEF pilot, the implications of the Independent Review of the TEF, and the next steps in developing the TEF. It will outline the implications from the perspectives of policy makers, providers and students.|
|4||Data revolutions and implications for quality
External Speaker: Jennie Walmsley, Data and Research Officer, Evaluation and Analytics Team, QAA
|An interactive workshop to explore the quality implications of the recent data revolutions in Higher Education, such as TEF; OfS and risk based regulation; the opportunity presented by social media; and the move to in-year reporting with Data Futures. We will explore how these data revolutions can help with quality measures (both internal and external), and what you can do in your organisation to embrace the opportunity they present.|
|5||Quality and Planning – A Marriage of Convenience?
External Speaker: Nina Anderson-Knox, ‘Head of QuEST’, University of the West of Scotland
In the main conference room – 11:30 only
|At UWS our Quality Enhancement Support Team (QuEST) and our Strategic Planning team have worked together to develop an online, pre-populated Programme Monitoring Report (PMR) to underpin our annual monitoring approach and demonstrate progress with relevant Corporate KPIs. The aim was to improve the reflective nature of the reporting, support the identification of effective actions, establish a single source of data for use across the whole institution and improve transparency of reporting. In this session I will outline our approach and provide some reflection on year one of operation.|
|6||Warwick Degree Apprenticeships: A Whirlwind Tour from Development to Delivery
External Speaker: Sam Hardy, Head of Degree Apprenticeships, University of Warwick
|The University of Warwick has been a forerunner in the development of Degree Apprenticeships and they are rapidly becoming a key part of the University’s Education Strategy. Whilst Degree Apprenticeships are not without their detractors, for the more open minded they are proving to be a facilitator for positive change within both academic and professional service departments. During this workshop you will hear about the journey Warwick has undertaken to integrate Degree Apprenticeships, including how these programmes are catalysing innovation and supporting Widening Participation. Finally, by special request there will be an opportunity to learn how Warwick has approached the thorny issue of compliance with the ESFA funding rules, and preparations for audit.|
|7||Working Title: What is driving enhancement in my institution?
Lead QSN Facilitator: TBC
|8||Working Title: Implementing and embedding the new UK Quality Code
Lead QSN Facilitator: TBC
Free to holders of QSN Season Ticket 2019/20 (one member per institution, see below)and QSN Season Ticket Plus One 2019/20 (two members per institution, see below)
£260 for delegates from QSN member institutions
Unsubsidised fee of £450 for representatives from institutions that have not subscribed as members of QSN
The fee includes the Conference dinner, and overnight accommodation at the conference centre for the night of Thursday, 19 September. Places are limited so early booking is advised to avoid disappointment. Booking is not restricted to the institutional representative – a nominee can attend in his/her place.
Paying by card
If you would like to pay for your booking with a credit / debit card, please call 0161 275 2163 with your card details once you have received your invoice.
QSN Season ticket 2019/20
The Network offers a QSN Season Ticket.
For an annual fee of £495, you receive:
The Network also offers a QSN Season Ticket Plus One – 2019/20
For an annual fee of £750, you receive:
Any additional events during the year (such as extraordinary meetings to consider specific developments) will also be available at a preferential rate. The place is allocated to the institution, and is not tied to a named individual.
Aston University, Aston St, Birmingham B4 7ET, United Kingdom
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