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Quality Assurance Agency Institutional Review of the University of York

We are pleased to report an excellent outcome to the recent Institutional Review of the University by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). 

All universities are subject to Institutional Review every six years. The review covers all educational provision – Undergraduate, Postgraduate Taught and Postgraduate Research. The outcome is very important in terms of confirming the quality and standards of the University’s teaching and learning activities. 

York was subject to Institutional Review this year. The work included scrutiny of our extensive Self Evaluation Document and supporting evidence base, and also a Student Written Submission. The review culminated in a week-long visit in February by the full QAA team (senior staff from other institutions and a student reviewer) to meet groups of staff and students. 

In the three areas where formal judgements are given, the report confirms:

  • that our awards ‘meet UK expectations’ for threshold standards (the best outcome that can be awarded)
  • that the quality of student learning opportunities again ‘meets UK expectations’
  • that we are commended on the enhancement of student learning opportunities – the best outcome that can be awarded. 

This excellent result is a clear endorsement of the hard work that has been done across the University to maintain and improve learning and teaching.

The QAA team identified areas of institutional good practice including the resources for staff contained in the Guide to Assessment, Standards, Marking and Feedback; the wide range of training and development opportunities at all levels, including for PGR students; the development of the Management Information Gateway to support departmental and institutional planning; the extensive opportunities for students to develop employability skills through engagement with local and regional communities; the proactive approach to supporting Distance Learning, and the establishment of the Mathematics Skills Centre.

As is usual practice, the review has produced some recommendations and specific endorsement of areas of work where improvements are already in hand. The main recommendations include ensuring that:

  • we respond to all points raised in external examiners’ reports in a timely and appropriate manner
  • procedures regarding the timing and conduct of Thesis Advisory Panels for postgraduate research students are applied consistently, and
  • information for students (eg handbooks and websites) is co-ordinated within a university-wide framework to ensure that it is accurate, comprehensive, clearly conveys expectations and shows what to do if the experience does not meet expected standards.

The full report can be viewed on the QAA website at www.qaa.ac.uk/InstitutionReports/Pages/University-of-York.aspx

Thanks are due to the large number of staff and students who worked very hard over several months to prepare for the review. This enabled the QAA team to be well informed by evidence of practice across the University, and the main visit to proceed smoothly. 

For further information on the Institutional Review, please contact nigel.dandy@york.ac.uk or liz.stead@york.ac.uk in the Academic Support Office. 

PROFESSOR JOHN ROBINSON
PRO-VICE-CHANCELLOR FOR TEACHING, LEARNING AND INFORMATION