Last update: 3 January 2013
UK Quality Code for Higher Education: potential impact for IT departments
Higher education providers use the Quality Code to help them to set and maintain the academic standards of their programmes and awards, assure and enhance the quality of the learning opportunities they make available, and provide information about higher education.
Student representatives and students' unions can also use the Quality Code in their discussions with their institutions, as it sets out the minimum expectations for the quality of the learning opportunities the provider makes available to its students.
Reviewers carrying out QAA reviews use the Quality Code as a benchmark for judging whether an individual higher education provider meets national expectations for academic standards and the quality of learning opportunities.
Developments in the Quality Code
The QAA is currently redeveloping various parts of the Code. UCISA has reviewed the draft of Chapter B4, provisionally titled Supporting student achievement, and has submitted a response to the consultation on its content. The new chapter will ultimately replace the current version discussed below; once the final version has been published UCISA will assess the potential impact on IT/IS departments.
Chapter B4: Student support, learning resources and careers education, information, advice and guidance
UCISA has reviewed Chapter B4 of the Code, and considered the impact upon the UCISA community. This Chapter is divided into two sections: Section 1 covers careers education, information, advice and guidance, while Section 2 deals with learning opportunities for disabled students.
UCISA believes that guidance laid out in Section 2 will be of most interest to IT staff.
For example Indicator 6, on page 24, is “The institution's publicity, programme details and general information are accessible and include explanations of how the entitlements of disabled students are met.” This includes making information available in programme specifications, prospectuses and course handbooks, which will be of interest to those working on their institution’s corporate information systems, or on departmental or university-wide websites. It is not clear how Indicator 6 relates to the Key Information Set (KIS).
Indicator 14, page 30, says “Institutions have in place the capacity to investigate the range of ways in which disabled students can be aided by ICT and to provide students and staff with the information to enable them to make the best use of assistive technologies.” In this part of the guidance the QAA advises “Wherever possible, assistive technologies should be available through institution-wide networks, rather than having to be accessed in segregated facilities” and it is suggested that provision of IT services should be inclusive not as a result of requests from individual students but from the institution’s anticipation of disabled students entitlements.
Chapter B4 also covers provision for disabled students within the physical environment. For example the use of audio-visual technology is considered within Indicator 19 on page 33 of the Chapter: “Institutions ensure that facilities and equipment are as accessible as possible to disabled students.”