Officer class: QAA training for students' unions

Student officers are to receive training on how to comment on their university's quality assurance practices, enabling them to "challenge and shape the quality of teaching" under trebled fees.

September 15, 2011

The initiative by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, in partnership with the National Union of Students, was launched in London at the Quality Matters conference on 13 September.

Student leaders will be taught how to participate in university quality assurance panels and to make independent submissions to the QAA.

There will also be extra support for 16 students' unions to "develop the student voice" at institutions undergoing QAA review.

Research into the student learning experience will also take place in the next 12 months as part of an investment of £261,000 by the QAA.

With tuition fees rising to as much as £9,000 next year, universities have been told to pay greater attention to improving the student experience and addressing students' course-related grievances.

Previous efforts to advance student-centred quality assurance have often been frustrated because union officers generally remain in post for only one or two years. Projects run by the QAA and NUS will aim to embed good practices in students' unions over the longer term.

"It is vital that students have the tools to challenge and shape the quality of teaching, learning and assessment in their own place of study," said Anthony McClaran, chief executive of the QAA.

"With the new tuition fee regime, there is a clear emphasis on the centrality of the student experience. It has focused attention on what students can expect. Some of the things we are putting in train already address these issues. New quality review methods build in student feedback at all levels of the process.

"We have made progress, but we want to go further."

jack.grove@tsleducation.com.

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