Quality watchdogs are poised to deal Derby University another blow with a highly critical report on some of its pioneering distance-learning courses. Part-time courses in subjects allied to medicine, pharmacy and pharmacology have failed to win approval from the Quality Assurance Agency.
A report, to be sent to the university soon, is expected to raise serious doubts over arrangements for safeguarding the quality of the programmes, which have been running for two years.
They are given a bottom grade 1 for quality assurance and enhancement, indicating that course aims are not being met, and that there are "major shortcomings" that must be rectified. A grade 2 has been given for student progression and achievement, showing "significant improvement could be made". Derby declined to comment.
The university is entitled to appeal by making representations to a QAA subcommittee if course leaders can show the assessors' verdict is unfair. Otherwise, the university will have to make a self-assessment submission for the programmes, which will then be re-inspected within a year.
Last December the Teacher Training Agency threatened to withdraw accreditation from Derby's primary postgraduate certificate in education after it was given two fail grades in an Ofsted re-inspection. Following an appeal and another re-inspection the programme was judged "fully compliant" with the TTA's quality assurance requirements.
In September the QAA raised concerns over arrangements for assuring quality on overseas programmes run by the university in partnership with Inter College in Israel. A report suggested "a more measured and prudent pace of development might be advisable".