Academic Standards and Quality

Monitoring and review

Quality assurance and enhancement processes

These are designed to ensure a cycle of feedback (pdf) that encourages the sharing of best practice and enhancements involving students, departmental and faculty staff, Faculty Education Committees and other University committees. The Annual Review of Courses (ARCs) are a central element, are reported to relevant University committees, and are used as a key tool to demonstrate that courses are achieving appropriate levels of academic standards and quality.  Student and external feedback, outcomes of course approvals, updates and periodic reviews are some of the key areas which are channelled into the ARCs, all of which provides an overview of activity and enhancements, and opportunities for sharing best practice.

Internal Monitoring

  • Annual Review of Courses

  • Student feedback

    Student surveys

    There are various surveys undertaken throughout a student's time at the University of Essex. There are external surveys, including the National Student Survey (NSS), the United Kingdom Engagement Survey (UKES), the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) and Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES), and also internal surveys, such as the Student Assessment of Modules and Teaching (SAMT) conducted at a departmental level.  Feedback from these surveys is included in ARCs and used to enhance the student experience.

    More information on surveys can be found on the Student Voice webpage.

    Departmental student assessment of modules and teaching (SAMT)

    SAMT is carried out every year*, and all registered students have the opportunity to take part in the survey.  The outcomes of SAMT are summarised and reviewed by SVGs, and inform Annual Review of Course reports.  Departments also let students know what action has been taken in response to previous surveys, before they complete their own.

    SAMT has taken place every year with effect from 2014/15.  Prior to this, the survey took place every three years as a minimum for existing modules, and within the first two years for new or significantly revised modules, although many departments sought feedback more frequently.

    Student Voice Groups (SVGs)

    Student Voice Groups (SVGs), formerly Student Staff Liaison Committees (SSLCs), are a forum for staff and students to discuss issues relating to a course, scheme, department or centre. They are student-led committees that form the basis for the representation of studentsí views within the department/school/centre.

    Student Representatives and Faculty Convenors

    Student Representatives and Faculty Convenors are students who are elected from Undergraduate and Postgraduate students. There are a variety of Student Representative roles to which students can be elected and represent the voice of their fellow students in SVGs by feeding back what is going well and what could be improved. This feedback gives departments the opportunity to enhance the student experience. Faculty Convenors also represent students on different University committees, such as AQSC and Education Committee.

    The Students' Union website provides information on the different Student Representative roles, as well as the Student Parliament.

  • External Examiners

  • Periodic Review of degree courses

  • Committees of Senate

  • The University's committee structure is designed to ensure that the information provided by the quality assurance and enhancement processes are scrutinised, that best practice is shared, and areas for enhancement are addressed.  In this way, academic standards and quality at the University are protected.

    External Monitoring and Review Procedures

    • Higher Education Review

      The current review method for higher education institutions in England and Northern Ireland is the Higher Education Review (HER).  The HER was introduced in 2013/14, replacing previous methods, including Institutional Review of higher education institutions in England and Northern Ireland, and the Review of College Higher Education. The HER is conducted by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). The QAA last undertook a review of the University from 2-5 December 2014 which determined that the University meets all expectations required of higher education providers, and commended the University's focus on improving the student learning experience.

    • Quality Assurance Agency (QAA)

      The QAA publish guidance on the expectations all providers of UK higher education are required to meet, with the aim of ensuring students are provided with the best possible learning experience.The QAA carry out reviews of institutions and publish reports which highlight areas of good practice, make recommendations for how to improve academic standards and quality, and comment on how well an institution meets its responsibilities. They also check that the institutions are exercising their legal power to award degrees in the proper manner. The University's academic policies, procedures and guidance are written based on the Quality Code published by the QAA. Quality and Academic Development (QUAD) team members regularly attend QAA events to ensure our quality assurance and enhancement activity and guidance is continuously developed.

      The UK Quality Code for Higher Education (the Quality Code) is a key element of the guidance produced by the QAA.

    • Professional, statutory or regulatory bodies (PSRB)

      Awards that lead to a professional qualification are regulated by PSRBs. They play a key role in ensuring that courses meet the benchmarks required for a particular profession, and that students are given the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge needed for their future career. 

    • Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

      The Government introduced the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in 2016 as a mechanism for recognising and rewarding excellent teaching in higher education and providing more information to support students in making choices about what and where to study. The TEF is managed by the Office for Students (OfS), and ratings are judged by an independent panel of students, academics and other experts. Universities' performance in the TEF will also have a direct impact on their ability to increase tuition fees. Our most recent Provider Submission achieved Gold, the highest possible outcome for the TEF, included contributions from staff and students, and provides a summary report in response to the TEF criteria. The outcomes of the TEF are usually published in the summer term. Changes to the way the TEF operates and reviews Universities, as well as changes to the metrics and submissions, are expected in 2019/20 following the outcomes of several pilot studies. The University's Gold TEF rating has been approved until summer 2021, where the University will provide a new submission for review.

    Page last updated: 13 August 2019