QAA rules tally climbs to 168

January 26, 2001

The number of rules that institutions must now conform to under the quality assurance framework has been raised to 168 with the publication of ten new rules in the ninth code of practice.

The number of new Quality Assurance Agency rules is set to top 200 as a total of 11 codes are published later by the end of the year, including one governing university admissions.

The ten latest rules, known as "precepts", have been introduced in a draft code of practice governing work placements, which should be endorsed by the agency's board later this year.

The placements code is the ninth in a "suite of interrelated documents", imposing between nine and 38 rules each, which make up the QAA's code of practice for the assurance of academic quality and standards. The total number of codes could reach 13, as two additional documents governing student information and student counselling are being considered.

Adherence to the rules will be judged on visits by the QAA's quality inspectors. The new system is being rolled out in Scotland and should be introduced in England later this year.

The placements code sets minimum requirements to ensure that "intended learning outcomes are achieved". It sets out procedures for defining the joint responsibilities of the university, the placement provider and the student.

Institutions must be able to ensure that the placement providers "are aware of, accept and are capable of fulfilling their responsibilities for facilitating the learning that a placement is intended to provide". All staff involved, either in the university or placement provider, should be "competent to fulfil their role, with proper training and assessment".

Students must have access to proper complaints procedures and institutions should monitor the standard and quality of placements.

The overarching code covers all aspects of higher education quality. According to the QAA, it "will provide an authoritative reference point for institutions as they consciously, actively and systematically assure the... quality and standards of their programmes, awards and qualifications".

Failure to adhere to any of the precepts could lead to public criticism, and is ultimately linked to a university's public funding.

The QAA's guidance on its code of practice says that the precepts "identify those key matters that the QAA expects an institution to be able to demonstrate it is addressing effectively".

"During the course of its quality assurance reviews," it says, "the QAA will consider the extent to which individual institutions are meeting the expectations of the precepts in the available sections of the code".

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