Various group discussions and the panel session at the QA & QE in e-Learning conference at the University of Hertfordshire on 2nd July looked to the future.
Nobody really seemed to think that the current round of cost-cutting would signal a move back to self-regulation as a cheaper option and there was some concern about how QA data might be used in future including more sanctions or data being used to create league tables.
There was a lot of talk around roles and responsibilities including the separation of QA & QE within institutions and the difference between top down and bottom up approaches. The phrase ‘unintelligent accountability’ came up a lot with the feeling that the government doesn’t trust QAA, QAA doesn’t trust institutions and institutions don’t trust their staff. It was noted that we need to get away from any kind of blame culture if we are to see real enhancement and to be able to learn from what has gone before. A Quaker saying ‘Speak Truth to Power’ sums up how many people wanted to be able to approach QA & QE within their institutions.
It was noted that although we see QA in FE as being driven by OFSTED inspections there are generally a lot of feedback loops and bottom up feedback in the process and there is much that HE could learn from this.
An observation that will resonate with our Design projects is the fact that people get very good at the validation process rather than the process of curriculum design and that the documentation generated is usually only useful for the validation process.
There was also a worry that the current climate may foster a sense of ‘short-termism’ and that we should be thinking long-term when we consider the role of a university and the nature of academic experience.
It was a very interesting and interactive day and a lot of people were interested in the work of our programmes so the programme team will be continuing to look for opportunities to maintain connections with the SIG and share experience and resources.
As an update to this post HEFCE has just published some information about changes to the QA system saying that information for prospective students will be a key element of the overhaul.