2023 programme review

This statement explains how the University of Hertfordshire monitors the quality of its courses, identifies the quality measures it uses to do so and summarises how it takes action where necessary. It was approved by the University’s Academic Board, and is reviewed regularly.

Approach to programme monitoring and review

The University employs various methods to oversee the quality and standards of its taught provision on an ongoing basis:

  1. Continuous Enhancement Planning

    The Continuous Enhancement Planning (CEP) process supports the quality assurance of the University’s taught programmes and enhances the student learning experience through incremental and focussed improvement. It supports programme teams in their continuous efforts to: maintain academic standards; improve the quality of learning opportunities; enhance the student learning experience by an ongoing, evidence informed monitoring process; and allow School and University oversight to identify and develop strategic improvement initiatives. CEP is a risk-based approach to the extent that it is informed by core metrics and qualitative evidence which allows programme teams to understand where to focus improvement measures.

    The following benchmarked module and programme-level data is considered as part of the process (analysed by student study mode, residential status, ethnicity, gender, disability, age, socio-economic background, religion, sexual orientation and typically with trends over a 3-year period):

    • Undergraduate Awards data: proportion of ‘good Honours’ degrees (i.e. First Class or Upper Second Class Honours degrees) awarded;
    • Course Drop-out data (a proxy for course continuation data): For full-time and part-time cohorts, drop-out rates from (i) Course year 1 to Course year 2 and (ii) Course Year 2 to Course Year 3;
    • Course completion data (N.B. In development for September 2022);
    • Value Added: Is a measure of student performance compared with sector expected outcomes based on entry qualifications
    • Withdrawal data: Overall withdrawal rate for the programme for the relevant period;
    • Graduate Outcomes survey data: employment rates and graduate employment rates, based on this survey taken 15 months after graduation;
    • National Student Survey (NSS) data;
    • Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) data;
    • Internal Student Voice Questionnaire (SVQ) data;
    • Module Grades and Module Fail Rates data.

    The following non-benchmarked module and programme-level data is considered as part of the process:

    • External examiners’ reports and their recommendations;
    • Matters raised in Programme Committees;
    • Significant and recurring themes from the module evaluation process.

    The CEP is a live process with continuously reviewed action plans, which allow programme teams to manage and track actions, ensuring actions are resolved or escalated in a timely manner. It is action-orientated with clear ownership of those prioritised actions. The action plans are informed by core and split metrics and qualitative evidence.

  2. Periodic Review

    All programmes offered by the University and its collaborative partners undergo a process of periodic review every six years. This is the process of re-development and re-approval of the programme. It enables the programme team to ‘take stock’ and decide what changes to the programme are required. It allows the University to assess the continuing validity and relevance of a programme in the light of:

    • management data relating to all aspects of the programme (see data consider through the CEP process, above);
    • external changes, such as changes to QAA Subject Benchmark statements or relevant Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) requirements;
    • changes in student demand, employer expectations and employment opportunities;
    • new University academic drivers and initiatives;
    • the continuing availability of staff and physical resources;
    • current research and practice in the application of knowledge in the relevant discipline(s), technological advances, and developments in learning and teaching.

    A key enhancement to the periodic review process from 2021/22 involves the alignment of programmes with the Herts Learning Principles. This will lead to the adoption of a blended and flexible pedagogy across every programme by 2025, and ensure its continued review subsequently. The Herts Learning Principles are:

    • Prioritises student learning
    • Ensures coherent design
    • Offers opportunities for personalisation
    • Harnesses technology
    • Builds communities

    Reviewed programmes are assessed by a periodic review panel which is independent of the School responsible for the programme. The outcome of the review is a recommendation to the Academic Board that the programme(s) either continued approval, subject to conditions of approval; or non-approval for further intakes

    The University requires external involvement in the development and validation or review of programmes. External involvement is both at the programme development or review stage (often known as an interim consultant) and at the validation or review event (External Panel Member)

  3. Student Performance Monitoring Group (SPMG)
  4. The Student Performance Monitoring Group (SPMG) is a group of academic data experts that consider all University-level and subject-level (at Common Aggregation Hierarchy level 2, CAH2) student entry and performance-related data, including data on provision delivered by its collaborative partners. This includes data on:

  • Applications and admissions;
  • Internal Drop-out (internal data) and non-continuation (external data);
  • Withdrawal;
  • Module failure rates;
  • Academic Appeals and Complaints;
  • Academic Misconduct;
  • Course completion data (N.B. In development for September 2022);
  • Awards (internal and external data);
  • Graduate Outcomes Survey.

The data is considered by fee status, gender, ethnicity, age, socio-economic background and disability.

SPMG gives priority to supporting the University’s continuing success in the Teaching Excellence Framework and ensuring compliance with the OfS’ ongoing condition of registration B3, Ofsted requirements and the need to make progress with the University’s Access and Participation Plan (APP) targets.

All continuous monitoring of programmes (through the CEP process) is undertaken on behalf of (and reported to) the relevant School Academic Committee (SAC). Periodic review of programmes is undertaken on behalf of the University’s Academic Standards and Audit Committee (ASAC), with the outcomes reported to the School SAC. In turn, SACs report annually to the University’s Academic Standards and Audit Committee (ASAC) and Education and Student Experience Committee (ESEC) on the significant and recurring outcomes of both activities.

SPMG reports to ASAC and ESEC on identified trends and areas for concern and to provide guidance on any actions that might be required. It also reports on the data and makes appropriate recommendations to: academic Schools responsible for TEF subject areas; groups responsible for equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) monitoring and the University’s Access and Participation Plan (APP).