Apparently lots if you’ve read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert M Pirsig).  It’s not about Motorbikes or Zen, it’s about quality, how you quantify if, and how it drove one man literally mad.  I’ve heard that it’s a good read but I never really managed to get my head around it – probably because I don’t really get Philosophy.  I’m more of a practical thinker myself.  However, it does raise an interesting question – How do you measure quality?

This week we have the QAA (Quality Assurance Agency) coming to audit the university.  In fact they should already be here.  I’m meeting with them today to talk about our Student Support procedures along with other members of staff.  This has involved a lot of preparation on my part to ensure that I’m all clued up about QAA as it’s the first time that I will have been involved in an institutional audit. 

Having done my research this week I’ve learnt a lot about how we do things here at the university and the impact it has on our students.

So who are the QAA and what do they do?

All universities that provide higher education in the UK are autonomous.  We’re not owned by the state, but most of us receive government funding.

UK higher education has an excellent international reputation and each institution does their part in ensuring that they meet these rigorous standards.  The QAA check that as universities we are doing a good job.  They visit all institutions on a regular basis to audit procedures to ensure that we are offering a consistent and high-quality education. 

We will be audited this week by a panel of our peers i.e. people from other universities in the UK.  They’ll look for evidence of good practice, how we get feedback from students, how we act upon that feedback, if we’ve made any changes required since the last audit, any areas of concern.

We’ll then get an interim report about 8 weeks after the visit for us to feedback on and then the final report will be published within 20 weeks.

Sounds pretty boring so why should you be interested?

Students get involved in the audit too. Neman Students Union put together a written submission for the QAA and spoke with the students about the quality not just of education, but support, customer service, pretty much everything that a student would have contact with.  It makes for interesting reading. 

But what’s it got to do with me?

You can be sure than whether you’re coming to Newman University College or any other UK institution, that we all have the highest academic standards that stand up to rigorous scrutiny.

This gives you peace of mind when you go back home that you are getting a degree from a recognised state funded university.  Also,it’s not just the university name, but the Higher Education system in the UK is recognised and respected worldwide.  

You never now, by the time I finish  blogging we may have had the report back and I’m sure I’ll be able to share with you some of the highlights. Meanwhile, wish me luck for my meeting with the QAA today!

In my next blog I’ll tell you some more about our University College and then get into some practical things like the application process and personal statements.  Feel free to comment on this post, drop me an e-mail (r.dobbs@newman.ac.uk) or contact me via Facebook (Rhian Dobbs Newman).