Colleges and Schools work within an Academic Policy and Quality Framework which sets out the University's mechanisms for assuring academic quality and standards, supported by the Policy and Quality Assurance Team within Registry. The Framework includes University legislation, academic procedures, and review mechanisms, all of which are overseen by sub-committees of the University Senate. Central to the Framework are the following quality assurance processes:
Programme approval and review
All proposed programmes of study go through a rigorous two-stage approval process. During the first stage, the plan for the programme is considered at College level. The second stage of the process is the preparation of a much more detailed Programme Proposal for consideration at University level which will include evidence of market research, external comments and a skills audit. Once programmes are approved, they are reviewed annually and as part of a periodic, strategic review process culminating in School Education Plans (SEPs). Annual review of programmes and modules provides Schools with a regular opportunity to reflect on and evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching and supervisory portfolio, with a view to the continual enhancement of provision for students.
External examiner system
Feedback from external examiners forms a vital part of the University's quality assurance processes. External examiner recommendations are reported to quality assurance committees both at University and College level.
Student representation system
The student representation system is founded on the belief that through effective representation students become partners in their education, allowing them a more active involvement in, and ownership of, their learning. Student Representatives from every subject area, undergraduate and postgraduate, are given responsibility for reporting on student issues within their subject to University staff and to the Guild of Students.
The University is committed to the continuous enhancement of the quality of its provision, and enhancement is central to the University’s Strategic Framework and Education Strategy. Enhancement arises both from routine quality assurance processes (through which examples of good practice in teaching delivery and related areas are identified and shared) and from specific quality enhancement and development activity.
The University’s approach to enhancement in a broad sense is focused upon the delivery of a curriculum that:
- Offers breadth, stretch, challenge and opportunity
- Is personalised, inclusive and supportive
- Engages students in their learning experience
- Promotes and values excellence in teaching
These principles build upon established and ongoing areas of educational development such as those supported by the Higher Education Futures institute (HEFi). HEFi leads and co-ordinates professional development on teaching for staff, promoting educational enhancement and supporting the identification, sharing and dissemination of practices and approaches, thereby complementing the variety of educational activity undertaken on a daily basis by colleagues across the University.
Degree Outcomes Statement
In May 2019, the UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment (UKSCQA) proposed that Higher Education Providers across England should produce and publish a ‘Degree Outcomes Statement’. It was suggested this Statement could provide an analysis of the Provider’s degree classification profile and an overview of arrangements for assuring quality in teaching, learning and assessment of students, academic regulations, and academic governance.
Degree Outcomes Statements are not a regulatory requirement however UKSCQA, with the support of Universities UK (UUK) and Guild HE, has encouraged Higher Education Providers in England and Wales to prepare such statements and publish them annually on their websites.
The University of Birmingham’s first Degree Outcomes Statement is available below. As proposed by UKSCQA, our Statement contains summary information on how degree outcomes are calculated and classified, and our broader quality assurance processes. This Statement will be updated on an annual basis at the end of each academic year.