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UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER FACULTY HEADS OF COLLABORATIVE COURSES FORUM 7 January 2009 Minutes of the Open Meeting of the Faculty Heads of Collaborative Courses Forum held on 7 January 2009 at Jordanstown Present from FHCCF:
Mrs J Alleyne, Mrs M T Boyle, Dr M Chapman, Ms R Fee, Ms C Guyer (Chair), Dr D Kirby, Professor D McAlister, Mrs M Paris, Ms U Quinn.
Present from Partner Institutions:
Mr L Curran, Mr F Daly, Mrs S Gray, Mrs S Kennedy, Mrs E Kenny, Mrs D McElwee, Dr M Mullan, Mrs K Porter, Mr J Reid. Mr P Walsh.
Mr C Morrison, Mrs F Crossey.
Mrs V Darrah, Mr H Deighan
INTRODUCTION The Chair welcomed everyone to the annual open meeting of the Forum to discuss a range of topics relating to standards management and quality assurance of higher education. The issues under consideration were drawn from feedback from staff in partner institutions. MATTERS DISCUSSED REPORTING STRUCTURES IN NEW AREA-BASED COLLEGES (ABCs) 09.01 Partner institutions confirmed that the new governance and management structures were all in place with only a few posts still to be filled. It was agreed that there should be a nominated officer in each ABC through whom the University would channel all communications relating to collaborative activity. The designated HE Co-ordinators are as follows: Belfast Metropolitan College Northern Regional College South Eastern Regional College Southern Regional College South West College North West Regional College
Joe Reid Suzanne Kennedy Paul Walsh Mary Connolly Eileen Kenny Calum Morrison
The University’s Collaborative Course Unit (CCU) will continue to liaise with their existing named contacts in each College. MONITORING OF PUBLICITY MATERIAL 09.02 The Chair informed the Group that the recent review of publicity material undertaken by the FHCCs had not revealed any serious misrepresentation of the relationship between the University and their collaborative partners.
Indeed the nature and extent of the relationship had, if anything, been underplayed. The Student Marketing Group within Ulster has offered to hold a workshop for marketing staff in partner institutions to build on the existing relationship. Enhanced marketing would be mutually beneficial to both parties as it should lead to increased enrolments on courses in partner institutions which in turn will lead to improved progression to Ulster. The Group were in favour of such a workshop although they felt it was important to note that such an initiative should not lead to heightened student expectations which may not be deliverable. AGREED:
that the Chair write to the Director of Student Marketing supporting the proposal to offer a workshop focussing on the greater promotion of the relationship and appropriate use of logos and terminology.
RE-APPROVAL OF PARTNER INSTITUTIONS 09.03 The Group were provided with an update on the new Institutional Re-Approval process being introduced by the University from this semester. It was stressed that the information required for this review would come primarily from existing documentation, which could be forwarded to the University in hard-copy or through links to their website. In the light of the QAA audit later this semester it has been agreed that Colleges would not be reviewed this academic year. It was noted that in future when partners bring forward new course proposals or submit existing provision for re-validation the evaluation panel will be looking only at the curriculum, how it meets national benchmarks, and the course teams ability to deliver the course. This will significantly reduce the level of documentation required and give a greater focus to the evaluation meeting. AGREED:
that a copy of the new procedures be sent to all collaborative partners.
STATUS OF ASSOCIATE STUDENT 09.04 The Group were informed that Senate had agreed a proposal to introduce the status of Associate Student of the University from the 2009/10 academic year for students at partner institutions studying towards a qualification awarded by Ulster. The new status means that associate students will have the following rights: i)
Associate students will be issued with a photographic ID card identifying their status;
Associate students will have borrowing rights from the University’s Learning Resources Centres identical to those afforded to Ulster students; Associate students will be provided with remote electronic access to the University’s learning resources, subject to confirmation that this is permissible within the current licensing agreements; Associate students will have access to the University’s Sports Centre facilities at Ulster student membership rate; Associate students, having exhausted the partner institutions’ own student complaints procedure, will have a final right of appeal to the University.
While recognising the University’s desire to afford associate students similar rights to Ulster students, there are financial, legal and practical grounds which necessitate the imposition of certain restrictions on the rights accorded to this status of student. The specific exclusions are: i) ii)
Associate students will not be eligible for bursaries, scholarships, prizes or other financial support packages offered by the University; Associate students will not have access to the University’s academic and pastoral support services including the provision of careers guidance and counselling; Associate students will not have the right to join the University’s Students’ Union; Associate students may join the Sports Union but their right to participate in competitions organised by BUCS, CUSAI and similar student sports organisation is not automatic and will be determined by the rules and regulations of those bodies; Associate student families will not have similar right to those provided to Ulster student families e.g. reduced fees at Sports Centres.
More detailed information on the implementation of these arrangements will be provided at the information dissemination event on 26 February 2009. REVIEW OF THE ANNUAL COURSE REVIEW PROCESS 09.05 The Group were informed that in the light of the changes in College structures the University was committed to reviewing the annual course review process. However, due to the recent industrial action in the FE sector and the change in external audit regime from ETI to the QAA the review had been put on hold. Feedback was sought on how to progress this matter. The consensus of opinion was that a small group should be established to look at reviewing the Self-Evaluation Report as it was now out of date due to changes in the IQ:RS documentation used by ETI for review. AGREED:
that a Working Group be set up to review the Self-Evaluation Report. STAFF DEVELOPMENT 09.06 Annual Staff Development Event for Course Directors
The Group felt that the recent staff development event for Course Directors had been a success with the balance between speakers from Ulster, partner institutions and external organisations being appropriate. Feedback was positive with the Group commenting favourably on the venue for the event and the varied programme. It was suggested that the event would be beneficial to teaching staff as well as Course Directors, and the possibility of extending it to full-day was also suggested. These comments will be considered when planning next year’s event. 09.07 Chairing of Board of Examiners For the past number of years the University has organised a staff development event for staff in partner institutions on the Chairing of Boards of Examiners. The feedback from the Group was that this event was very useful and with a number of new staff in place, it should be continued this year. The event will be held sometime in mid to late May. AGREED:
that the University provide training for staff involved in Chairing Boards of Examiners. Names of staff to be trained to be forwarded to Mr H Deighan by 27 February 2009.
09.08 Future Training Needs The Group identified the following areas of staff development: i) ii) iii) iv)
Writing effective self-evaluations; Standardising of the marking process; Writing learning outcomes; Identifying and dealing with plagiarism.
that the University give consideration to these suggestions.
COMMUNICATION CHANNELS 09.09 Online Discussion Forum The Chair advised that the online discussion forum, which had been developed in response to a recommendation from a previous meeting of the open forum, was used primarily as an e-mail distribution list by which the University forwards relevant information to those staff in partner institutions who are signed up to it. The Group accepted that it was seldom used by them, however, felt that it should be retained to facilitate discussion on specific issues which may arise from time to time e.g. review of the Self-Evaluation Report. AGREED:
that the online discussion forum be retained.
The Group discussed the merits of an electronic newsletter which would provide information on areas such as CPD events, changes in policies and procedures, staff changes etc. They agreed that this type of information was already communicated in an informal way by Faculty Heads at subject level and decided against introducing an electronic newsletter. 09.11 Distribution of External Examiner Reports External Examiner reports are sent directly to the PVC (Teaching and Learning) who reads them and responds as necessary before forwarding them to the Examinations Officer for distribution. The majority of the reports are received in hard copy rather than in electronic format. The current position is that the University sends a copy of the External Examiner report to the Director/Principal of the partner institution, the HE Coordinator and the Course Director. AGREED:
that Faculty Heads will encourage External Examiners to submit their report electronically.
that the University look at ways to streamline the distribution process.
PROGRESSION PATHWAYS FROM FOUNDATION DEGREE 09.12 The Chair informed the Group that the University’s agreed model for Foundation degrees is 2 + bridging + 1, with the bridging anything between 0 and 120 credits point depending on curriculum requirements.
DEL has established a Foundation Degree Strategy Group which includes representatives from the University and partner institutions to consider the following issues: To establish the criteria by which it will be acceptable for colleges to seek validation from English Higher Education Institutions i.e. where the local universities are unable or unwilling to validate a Foundation Degree; To consider how the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) can be developed as an entry route to Foundation Degrees; To explore the benefits and implications for students, colleges and universities of the various Foundation Degree / Honours Degree articulation models and recommend an articulation model for Northern Ireland. RESPONSIBILITITY FOR PAYMENT OF EXTERNAL EXAMINER EXPENSES 09.13 The Chair reminded the Group that partner institutions are responsible for the payment of External Examiners expenses. The University invoices the partner 5
institution for the appropriate amount. The University pays the External Examiner fee. AGREED:
that partner institution provide Mr H Deighan with a contact in their Finance Department where invoices should be sent.
REGISTRATION OF STUDENTS AND PAYMENT OF FEES 09.14 Mrs V Darrah of the Collaborative Courses Unit (CCU) said that her Unit had built up a very good working relationship with staff in partner institutions. Under the University’s new Student Record System students have now been allocated a new registration number. Since the 2006/07 academic year the University now records modules studied and marks gained for all courses offered in collaboration with Ulster. It is very important therefore that all changes to the modules undertaken by the student be notified to the CCU so that the modules studied and marks achieved match. She also said that the Unit should be informed of any revisions to the module eg semester taught, structure of module, weighting etc. For major changes this should be done through the CA3 process. GUIDANCE ON STOCK OF REQUIRED / RECOMMENDED TEXT 09.15 The group were informed that the University’s Collections and Information Access Policy is used to guide decisions on the provision of the number of textbooks to be held in stock. Further information and guidance on this policy can be obtained from the Faculty Head of Collaborative Courses. COLLABORATIVE COURSES REGISTER 09.16 The Group were informed that the University is currently developing a Collaborative Courses Register which will be made publically available on the web. Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes