Quality control, here and there
The latest UK QAA report on “concerns about academic quality and standards in higher education in England” has asked and attempted to answer the following question types (apologies if my paraphrasing has distorted anything) –
- Are there enough student-staff contact hours to enable students to reach graduate standards of achievement?
- Do low rates of contact with staff represents poor ‘value for money’ in a fee-paying environment?
- Is there an admissions problem of students with insufficient English language skills, the result of which is all students (not just the linguistically challenged) have an impoverished learning experience?
- Are there sufficient ongoing availability and/or effective support mechanisms in place to deal with deficient language skills?
- Are international students and their advisers sufficiently knowledgeable about higher education teaching, learning and assessment practices in the UK? Do they know what to expect when they arrive here?
- Are the intentions, operations and role of external examiners clear?
- Are the inputs, reports, and recommendations of external examiners appreciated by the institutions they are externing? If not, why not? What does this imply about the concept of external examiners?
- To what extent is there variation in the way that institutional assessment regulations are applied by individual schools or departments (with potential impacts on parity and fairness)?
- Is the degree classification system applied consistently across different departments, schools and institutions?
- What do the terms “academic quality” and “academic standards” actually mean?
- Do those inside educational institutions and those outside of them (e.g. the media) have the same understanding of subject benchmark statements and other reference tools used by institutions in setting and maintaining academic standards and academic quality
To what extent should the same questions be asked here in Ireland?
What might the answers look like?