Bournemouth University has become the first higher education institution to be commended for the quality of its student learning opportunities by the Quality Assurance Agency.
The commendation, the highest award possible under the agency’s institutional review scheme, came in light of a review carried out in June and published on 6 September.
In the three other categories assessed – academic standards, quality of information and enhancement of student learning opportunities – Bournemouth met expectations, the QAA says. The review team indicates no areas in need of improvement.
This is the first time since the agency introduced the commended level in 2011 that it has awarded it in this category.
Commendation is possible in all areas except “academic standards”, but so far only a handful of institutions, including the universities of Lincoln, Warwick and York, have been recognised in any field, said a spokeswoman for the agency.
The QAA defines “learning opportunities” as provision made for students’ learning, including planned study, teaching, assessment, and academic and personal support, plus resources, such as libraries, laboratories and studios.
Areas of good practice highlighted by the QAA include Bournemouth’s measures to “engage and involve all members of staff in its mission, values and…priorities”. The agency also notes its efforts to engage students in the development of academic strategy and policy, both individually and collectively through the students’ union.
“The commendation is both a testament to the hard work of the staff and students’ union at Bournemouth…and a reflection of continuing investment in our facilities,” said vice-chancellor John Vinney.
Murray Simpson, president of the Students’ Union at Bournemouth University, said he was thrilled to see student representation highlighted as a feature of good practice.
He noted Bournemouth’s student representation system, which has more than 800 members voicing student opinion “through evidence-based research at an individual course level through to the university senior management team”.