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Quality Assurance and Enhancement at St Mary's University

Quality assurance and enhancement are two distinct yet closely related areas of activity in higher education. Quality assurance is the process of ensuring that the quality of learning opportunities is appropriate to enable students to meet the academic standards of the award for which they are studying. Quality enhancement is an ongoing and deliberate approach to change which is intended to continuously improve the learning experience of students. The UK Quality Code articulates the main principles which underpins the quality assurance and enhancement of UK higher education, and the regulatory approach to assuring quality.

The revised code is based on three elements:

Expectations which clearly and succinctly express the outcomes providers should achieve in setting and maintaining the standards of their awards, and for managing the quality of their provision

  1. Practices representing effective ways of working that underpin the delivery of the expectations, and will deliver positive outcomes for students. These include:
    1. Core practices that must be demonstrated by all UK higher education providers as part of assuring their standards and quality;
    2. Common practices that will be applied by providers in line with their missions, their regulatory context and the needs of their students. These are practices common to the underpinning of quality in all UK providers but are not regulatory requirements for providers in England.

3. Advice and guidance which will help established and new providers alike to develop and maintain effective quality assurance practice. 

Implementing the expectations and practices of the UK Quality Code is undertaken by a variety of different stakeholders throughout the University. Therefore, effective enhancement of the learning experience and assurance of quality requires a common understanding of processes and responsibilities of both individuals (academic and professional services) and committees at all levels of the University. This handbook is designed to provide this guidance. The Handbook also demonstrates how the University meets its obligations as defined in the UK Quality Code, and is therefore a key component in the University’s internal regulatory framework.

Vision 2025

Vision 2025 sets out the University’s ambitions for the next six years. Quality assurance and enhancement plays an important role in supporting the overarching plan within Vision 2025, for example through developing international partnerships and increasing student satisfaction. The Education Strategy within Vision 2025 sets the strategic aim of achieving a Gold standard by 2025 in the Teaching Excellence Framework. Key objectives within the Education Strategy include developing student’s employability, personal development and global mindedness, and enhancing the quality of academic feedback. Doing so requires a robust and supportive approach to quality assurance and enhancement that fosters academic innovation, encourages the sharing of good practice, and enables effective engagement with external benchmarks and professional accreditation. The processes and activities defined in this handbook therefore also contribute towards the University meeting its Vision 2025 KPIs, particularly with regards to student satisfaction, good honours, retention, internationalisation and employability.