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Teaching & Learning Update July 2015

This update contains information on the following topics:

Changes to Regulations & Policies


Ongoing Developments

 

Changes to Regulations and Policies

Guidance on Mitigating Circumstances

New Guidance on Mitigating Circumstances has been developed by a working group of the Academic Quality and Standards Committee and approved by the Senate at its meeting in June 2015. This will come into effect in 2015/16 and will apply to students on undergraduate and postgraduate taught courses. The Guidance is intended to clarify for students the procedures for disclosing mitigating circumstances, what is likely to be eligible for consideration and what evidence is likely to be required. Further information on this will be circulated in due course.

Regulations Relating to Pass Degree Status

Changes to Regulation 8 for First Degrees have been approved to withdraw the option for Boards of Examiners to allow students to proceed to the next year of a Pass Degree. This applies for students in their first or intermediate years of study. These changes ensure that the Regulations are aligned to the First Year Board of Examiner Conventions introduced in 2014/15. However Boards of Examiners do still have the option of awarding students a Pass Degree in their final year of study. The revised Regulation 8 is available at http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/gov/calendar/section2/regulations/

Waiving of Assessed Module Components

The Senate has approved provision for waiving small components of assessed marks where a student fails to complete a component contributing to the final mark for a module by the due date, and where there are mitigating circumstances for work not having been done. This only applies where an assessed component is worth less than 2 CATS. For each student no more than 2 CATS on individual pieces of work may be waived, subject to a maximum of 4 CATS per module or 20% of the total credit available for the module, whichever is the lesser, and subject to an overall limit 6 CATS in total per student, per year of study. Further details are available in the Senate Degree and Examination Conventions website.

This provision applies to undergraduate and postgraduate taught degrees.

Student Staff Liaison Committee Code of Conduct

A set of principles set out in the Code of Practice on Student Representation on Student-Staff Liaison Committees was approved by Senate in June 2015 and will be issued for students and staff with effect from the academic year 2015-16. This document aims to outline the relative expectations of both the Students’ Union and the University in relation to supporting effective student representation and engagement and should act as a useful reference point for both student and staff representatives.

Changes to the Credit and Module Framework

Two changes relating to undergraduate degrees have been introduced to the Credit and Module Framework . The first provides clarification that students cannot deregister from modules once they have completed more than 10% of assessments on the module.

The second amends the minimum level of credit to be taken in each year of study (or equivalent for part-time degrees) to align more closely to the QAA Qualifications Frameworks and to provide greater opportunity for students to take level 4 modules beyond year 1. Should you wish to amend degree structures in light of this, changes would need to be considered through the normal approval routes.

Ongoing Developments

 

NSS and Warwick Student Survey

The initial results for NSS 2015 will be made available to the University on 31 July 2015. This will contain the University’s own data, with further data on the rest of the sector and individual student comments being released in stages through August. Data is embargoed until 12 August 2015. We aim to provide departments with headline data as soon as possible after the initial release on 31 July, with further comparative data being circulated as information is released to us.

Following a successful technical pilot in 2014, the Warwick Student Survey (WSS) was opened to students from Monday 9th February. This is an internal survey using the same questions as the NSS and is for all undergraduate students who were not on the NSS target list this year. The WSS data and free text comments will be released to departments with the NSS results in August. This adds to the wealth of student feedback opportunities at Warwick and provides departments with an opportunity for comparable but earlier information than the NSS to help identify best practice or potential issues amongst courses.

Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) and Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES)

The University of Warwick recently took part in the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES). Warwick achieved a response rate of 57.8%, which is significantly higher than both national and Russell Group averages and a substantial increase on our 2013 result (43%). This year’s response rate means that, for the first time, the majority of PGR students have responded to the PRES. This is a major achievement and produces a wealth of rich data, which will enable the University to effectively engage with the issues that PGR students have identified as areas to address. Academic departments, the Library and Student Careers and Skills will receive the PRES results and will be asked to use them to complete an action plan by 1 October.

Warwick’s response rate for the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) this year was 42%; this is a significant increase on our 2014 result (35.7%). This achievement is all the more remarkable because we survey all our Master’s students – including part-time and distance learning students which tend to be less responsive to the PTES. After receiving the benchmarking report from the Higher Education Academy which will allow us to compare Warwick results to those of other institutions, the results will be analysed alongside those from the NSS and the PRES.

Student Staff Liaison Committees

i. SSLC Staff Convenors

- Names of Academic SSLC Convenors will have been confirmed with departments over the summer term 2014-15 alongside the University committee membership nominations – removing the request for this information from the annual SSLC UG and PG reports.

- Three training sessions for Academic SSLC Convenors have been scheduled for the next academic year with a view to inducting those new in the role, refresher for those continuing in the role, conveying key information and sharing best practice. The confirmed dates are:

Week 0 – Wednesday 30 September 2015 (pm);

Week 2 of Term 1 – Wednesday 14 October 2015 (pm);

Week 2 of Term 2 – Wednesday 20 January 2016 (pm).

ii. SSLC Handbook

This will now be fully available online and information for both staff and students will be integrated in to the Students' Union SSLC website ready for 2015-16.

Feedback on Exams and Dissertations

The Academic Quality and Standards Committee at its meeting on 23 February 2015 resolved that the 20-day feedback rule would not apply where formative work was submitted late with no explanation or extension granted. The Committee is also continuing to consider feedback on examinations and dissertations.

Course Approval Process

A two-day business process review took place in April to review the University’s existing course approval process. The review was aimed at proposing an efficient and flexible way of approving courses at the University that would safeguard academic standards. Outcomes of the review were presented to University committees for consideration in Term 3, including Faculty Sub-Committees, Boards of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies and the Academic Quality and Standards Committee. Many thanks to academic and administrative colleagues who agreed to participate in the business process review, or provided us with additional comments throughout this process. The revised process has now been approved by the Senate but further work will be undertaken in the coming academic year on electronic systems to support its implementation. The proposals approved by the Senate are available here.

Annual Monitoring and Review

A working group was established in the last academic year to review the University’s Annual Course Review process. The aims of the review included the need to make the process more meaningful, proportionate and to reduce administrative burden. An outline proposal has now been approved by the Senate but further work will need to be done on the detail of the proposals and on supporting systems over the coming year. The proposals approved by the Senate are available here.

Intercalated and Year Abroad

In order to ensure that students’ achievements on the year abroad and intercalated year are appropriately recognised proposals are being developed for the award of credit for this year of study. This will not apply to students going on a year abroad and intercalated year in 2015/16, but the activities that students undertake during this year in 2015/16 will be recognised on their HEAR. Discussions have already taken place with a number of departments on the proposals, and further discussions will be ongoing in the coming weeks.

Course Specifications

The University is required to publish a set of information about its approved courses that can be accessed by current students and staff and the public. This is contained within course specifications and published online via a database. We would be grateful therefore if you could ensure that the version of the course specification approved by the Boards of Undergraduate or Graduate Studies is uploaded to the Course Specification database once a new or revised course is approved. If you or your colleagues don’t have access to the database please contact us on quality at warwick dot ac dot uk

Warwick International Higher Education Academy

Thanks to the great many colleagues who attended the Institutional Learning & Teaching Showcase on 7th May to participate in workshops on a wide variety of teaching and learning issues and to attend the launch of the Warwick International Higher Education Academy. We are delighted to be able to report that plans for the Academy have advanced since the launch and colleagues should expect to learn more via the website at http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/academy/ in due course.

We have also been delighted by the enthusiastic response to the invitation for nominations for Foundation Fellows for the Academy to help steer a course through its first year. Foundation Fellows are being invited to a lunch event to be held on 5th October to learn more about plans, forthcoming initiatives and to hear about ways in which they can shortly get directly involved in Academy projects.

Staff Changes

We are pleased to congratulate our team member Ruth Cooper on her move to a new role in Computer Science from the beginning of June. We very much miss Ruth’s valuable contribution to the team but we wish her every success in the future.

However we have been able to welcome Jen Bowskill to the team from 6th July to fill the position left vacant by Ruth’s move to Computer Science. From early August we will also be welcoming Claudia Gray, who is new to the University, into the team to take up a new position, as a fourth Assistant Registrar (Learning and Teaching), supporting the Faculty of Medicine as Faculty Board Secretary and undertaking project work related to quality assurance of teaching and learning. We wish them both good luck as they take up their new roles.