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Notes from ARC QPG meeting, March 08

Presentation and discussion from a range of colleagues involved in recent and ongoing QAA audits, including Institutional Audit (Anglia Ruskin, Bradford and others), IQER (Hull and others), overseas audit (Warwick and others), Collaborative Provision Audit (Kingston and others).

Points to note
  • Briefing Papers can be tricky - our Audit B.Paper may well require lots of cross-referring; and yes, others would advise getting external critical friends/readers
  • Documentation - some HEIs have used their e-learning portal (eg WebCT/Blackboard) as document storage and supply solution
  • There will be lots of reading time for the audit team during both Briefing and Audit visits. We need to make their lives as easy as possible - the more we can provide relevant information easily, the less they'll have to go looking for it.
  • Potential meetees might include: new staff, personal tutors, Exam Board chairs, Finance Director, students (poss incl collab course student), no students, Careers, pastoral and library support services. Yes, you read that right: in one recent Institutional Audit the audit team did not meet any students during the Audit visit.
  • Preparing the meetees: it might be worth thinking about mock audit meetings (open to other meetees, incl. VC!), although opinion was divided; it would be good to get the teams of 8 together in advance (they may never have met before); identify a question wrangler (to direct the question to the person on the team best placed to answer), and a sweeper (to clear up any confusion before moving on).
  • Period between Briefing visit and Audit visit will be very hectic - arranging audit trails, lining up and briefing meetees, providing extra documentation to QAA
  • Sampling trails: some room for negotiation with QAA, but not a lot of room for manoeuvre - they don't want to do anything that's been Ofsted-ed, GMC-ed, GDC-ed; normally avoid anything that was the subject of a DAT last time around; would like to cover collaborative provision and PGR in audit trails if possible, and would like to base things on recent (ish) periodic review processes. This probably narrows the choice considerably!
  • For some, the PGR section of Audit felt more QA/old-fashioned audit: less emphasis on enhancement, more on compliance
  • QAA Information Unit stuff has tended to be bland background information of relatively little interest to Audit teams
  • Audit teams appear to be paying scant attention to the European HE Standards and Guidelines. One said the Audit team appeared to be looking for "a glimmer of recognition in the eyes of the staff" - but no more than that.