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TQ Autumn 2010 Update

This update contains information on the following topics:

1. Changes to Assessment Conventions

2. Changes to Course/Module approval processes

3. Changes to other University Policies/Regulations

4. Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR)

5. National Student Survey 2010

6. Good Practice Guide on Joint and Cross Departmental Courses


1. Changes to Assessment Conventions
(i) 2008 Harmonised Degree Convention

Following our previous newsletter in April 2010, which contained information regarding a significant reworking of the 2008 Harmonised Degree Convention, the Senate, at its meetings on 7 July 2010 and 6 October 2010, approved further minor amendments to the Convention, concerning:

  • Additional classification conventions for the BA Law and Business Studies and the BA Law and Sociology;
  • A clarification of the application of the 2008 Classification Convention to 2+2 students, students who have taken a period of temporary withdrawal and students who have either restarted their degree or another degree;
  • A clarification to the wording within section II(3) of the 2008 Classification Convention requested by the Sub-Faculty of Science;
  • Joint degrees involving the Faculty of Science and another Faculty, including whether students on such courses are permitted to take additional credit and, if so, whether the Seymour formula is applied.

The latest revised version of the 2008 Harmonised Degree Convention is available online (along with a downloadable document containing the full Convention), noting that for students on three year courses who joined the University in Autumn 2008 the Harmonised Degree Convention should be applied at the conclusion of such courses in June 2011.

(ii) Intermediate Year Progression Requirements

Following an extensive period of consultation with academic departments, the Senate, at its meeting on 7 July 2010, approved a recommendation from the Academic Quality and Standards Committee regarding the progression requirements for students on intermediate years of study, applicable to new students in the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences who joined Warwick from Autumn 2009 onwards and students in the Faculty of Science who will join Warwick from Autumn 2011 onwards.

The latest version of the progression requirements is available online.

(iii) Credit and Module Framework

Following consultation with academic departments, the Senate, at its meeting on 7 July 2010, approved changes to the University’s credit and module framework concerning the number of credits at first year level (FHEQ level 4) or Stage 1 language modules that may normally be taken by students in second or subsequent year (s) of study, as follows (Please note: These changes take effect from 2011/12 academic year):

Within the normal credit load for the course, Course Regulations may permit a student to take, in the second or subsequent year(s) of study, credits at first year level (FHEQ level 4) or Stage 1 language modules, provided:

  • the total number of credits taken after the first year does not exceed 30; and
  • Stage 1 language modules may not be taken in the final year.

If approved by the Academic Quality and Standards Committee, Course Regulations may permit a higher number of first year credits/Stage 1 language modules to be taken in the second and subsequent year(s). An example of when different limits may be appropriate includes where this is necessary to comply with the requirements of a professional, statutory or regulatory body.

In the interests of providing progression routes for students, if Course Regulations permit students to take language modules in more than one year of the course, the Regulations should normally permit students who have taken a Stage 1 language module in one year to take a Stage 2 language module in the same language in the next year of the course.

The latest version of the Credit and Module Framework is available online.

Should departments need to seek approval to amend course regulations in order to permit a higher number of first credits/Stage 1 language modules to be taken in the second or subsequent year(s) of study, this should be communicated to the Assistant Registrar (Teaching Quality) in the first instance, to be considered by AQSC.

2. Changes to Course/Module approval processes

Colleagues will undoubtedly be aware of the proposed changes to the course and module approval process following an extensive period of consultation with academic departments during 2009/10. The final arrangements were approved by Senate at its meeting on 7 July 2010, and the Teaching Quality section has been working over the Summer vacation to implement the changes for 2010/11.

The fundamental themes of the approved proposals are as follows:

  • That the approval of new modules and amendments to modules be devolved to academic departments for the academic year 2010/11, with data being provided directly to administrative departments for the setting up of modules;
  • That the existing route for course approval, including collaborative courses, be retained.
  • That the conversion of a module to a Postgraduate Award be approved at departmental level from 2010/11;

Documentation on the revised process has been circulated to Departments and is available on the Teaching Quality website.

3. Changes to other University Policies/Regulations

The following amendments and additions to University policy were approved by the Academic Quality and Standards Committee (AQSC) and the Senate in the Summer term and Summer vacation 2009-10. The associated regulations and policies for these amendments are currently being updated.

(i) Review of Terms of Reference of the Academic Quality and Standards Committee

In May 2010, a working group was set up to consider the terms of reference of AQSC and its Sub-Committees. AQSC considered recommendations from the group at its meetings in May and June, which, following consultation with BUGS, BGS and CFDLSC, were approved by Senate in July 2010. The revisions are wide-ranging, but the underlying rationale is to devolve the majority of operational matters to Sub-Committees in order to allow AQSC greater capacity to address strategic issues, whilst still retaining a rigorous quality assurance framework through its oversight of QA processes.

(ii) Collaborative Courses with other UK HEIs

The Senate approved a recommendation that, where a collaborative course proposal concerns a UK HE Institution, sections B and D of the part 4 course proposal form need not be completed if the institution has received a judgement of confidence (or equivalent) in its most recent Quality Assurance Agency Institutional Audit

(iii) Health and Safety Guidance for Placements

The Good Practice Guide on Placement Learning has been updated to take into account changing Health and Safety Policy and Guidance, noting that the Policy and Guidance also applied to Postgraduate Research Students. The Guide has been circulated to Departmental contacts involved in the delivery of Placement learning.

(iv) Collaborative Course Regulation

A new regulation on collaborative courses was approved by Senate in July 2010, noting that the Board of Graduate Studies recommended that the Regulation be approved for use in all future collaborative partnerships; it being noted that whilst this potentially left ‘grandfather’ issues with respect to collaborations already approved for which bespoke regulations had been developed previously and which it was hoped might over time be drawn into the scope of the generic collaborative regulation, this was not an immediate expectation.

(v) Amendments to regulation 12 (Absence for Medical Reasons from a University Examination for First Degrees)

The Senate approved a recommendation to rework regulation 12 – Absence for Medical Reasons from a University Examination for First Degrees – to clarify the required timing of submission of a medical certificate for those students who miss a University exam or fail to submit assessed work and the records that must be retained by departments. The regulation also now provides a clearer definition of what is meant by “medical reasons” and “medical certificate”.

4. Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR)

As outlined in the last newsletter, AQSC approved, at its meeting in March, the proposal that the University should be working towards the establishment of the Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR). The HEAR will be a more detailed record of a student’s learning and achievements and will extend the existing academic transcript issued upon graduation (AQSC minute 58/09-10 refers).

A HEAR Project Board has now been established to oversee the introduction of this award at Warwick, including representation from academic and administrative departments and of the student body, and this will meet for the second time in November 2010. A smaller HEAR operational group, reporting to the Project Board, has now also been convened to work on detailed proposals as to how the HEAR can be constructed at Warwick making most efficient use of data available on students’ academic and non-academic achievements.

5. National Student Survey 2010

For Warwick the latest data shows that our overall satisfaction rate has gone up by 1% to 89% and is well above the sector average (which is 82%). Our University level overall results for the sub-sections of the NSS have all gone up or remain the same as last year’s levels. These results are a tribute to the hard work undertaken by all those staff who contribute to the teaching and learning experience at Warwick.

Departmental digests of results have now been circulated to Heads of Departments. Based on the results, work will continue over the coming year to strengthen our performance in the areas of Assessment and Feedback.

6. Good Practice Guide on Joint and Cross Departmental Courses

At its meeting in May, AQSC approved the new 'Undergraduate Joint and Cross-Departmental Courses: A Good Practice Guide' for implementation in 2010/11. The Guide has subsequently been sent to Heads of Department, and a meeting of Joint and Cross-Departmental Course Directors and Liaison Officers will take place in early November 2010 to discuss the Guide and other matters of relevance to such courses.

07/10/10