QAA seeks new quality development director

Agency head Anthony McClaran elaborates on what the role will entail. Plus the latest higher education jobs and appointments

January 23, 2014

Source: Alamy

Standards bearer: new QAA role will focus on ‘enhancing’ student education

Not too long ago, higher education institutions overseen by the Quality Assurance Agency had fairly limited contact with it, often only a nervy institutional review every six years.

With the rapid changes to the higher education landscape in recent years, that is no longer the case.

And that upheaval has been felt in the agency as well. Its client base has tripled in size. About 200 private providers now undergo various types of educational audit, often with annual monitoring to determine their ability to recruit international students, and some 200 further education colleges fall under the standards watchdog’s purview as well.

The nature of engagement with the 140 or so traditional universities and university colleges has also changed. The QAA now asks subscribers to focus on “enhancing” student education rather than just guaranteeing minimum standards.

In light of all this, the departure of the director of research, development and partnerships will lead to a slight change to the role.

As advertised last week in Times Higher Education, the QAA is seeking a director of quality development, based in its Gloucester offices, to replace Jayne Mitchell, who is leaving to become deputy vice-chancellor for academic affairs at Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln.

The new role will have a greater emphasis on ensuring that the different types of QAA customers receive the appropriate training and advice, said Anthony McClaran, the body’s chief executive.

“The new groups of subscribers may want different things, such as training and development activities related to further education or alternative providers,” said Mr McClaran, who anticipates many more private providers becoming full QAA subscribers in the near future.

“We want to make sure that our services reflect our much broader base of subscribers,” he said.

The new director will also lead the QAA’s business development activities, including the training and consultancy services offered to other countries seeking to learn lessons from the UK’s quality assurance practices, Mr McClaran said.

“We have a lot of requests from overseas, and we are currently working with 10 countries. So we are looking at a whole spectrum of services,” he said.

The new director will oversee the maintenance and development of the QAA’s recently updated Quality Code, its qualifications framework and subject benchmarks, which set down the minimum skills and qualities that graduates must have.

In addition, the director will lead the QAA’s research team, which ensures that the information gleaned from institutional reviews does more than help just that one university or college by feeding it into research that improves education elsewhere in the sector.

“It is not simply about ensuring that minimum standards are maintained – we want to see continuous improvements,” Mr McClaran said.

“Enhancement is something that can and does go on all the time, and we want to encourage this,” he added.

Oversight needed: other administrator jobs

Bath Spa University
Bath Spa University is seeking an academic director to lead its offer for students at its new “Pathway College” and College of Global Business Leadership.
Closing date for applications: 12 February 2014
Click here to view the full job description and to apply for this role

The University of Manchester
The University of Manchester is looking to appoint a director of student life, a new role to lead the provision of support and well-being services.
Closing date for applications: 12 February 2014
Click here to view the full job description and to apply for this role

London Business School
London Business School is searching for a new director to lead its career services department, which assists graduates in finding high-profile appointments globally.
Closing date for applications: 13 February 2014
Click here to view the full job description and to apply for this role


The University of Reading has announced the appointment of two new pro vice-chancellors. Vincenzo Raimo will join as pro vice-chancellor for global engagement, and Robert Van de Noort will be the new pro vice-chancellor for academic planning and resource. Both will start on 1 August. Steve Mithen, who is pro vice-chancellor (international and external engagement), will take over responsibility for research and innovation at the same time.

Greville Corbett, distinguished professor of linguistics at the University of Surrey, has been elected an honorary member of the Linguistic Society of America. The society’s executive committee elects members in recognition of their distinction in linguistic studies.

The University of the West of Scotland has named Donald Gillies head of its School of Education. Professor Gillies, who will take up the post on 3 February, has more than 30 years’ experience of working across several areas of the education sector. He joins from York St John University, where he is professor of education policy.

Robert Gordon University has named Karen Strickland associate head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery. She joined Robert Gordon in December from Edinburgh Napier University.

Stanislav Dusko Ehrlich has been named the director of the new Host-Microbiome Interactions Centre at King’s College London’s Dental Institute.

The University of Leicester recently made two appointments. Jon Scott has joined as the new academic registrar and Steven King has been promoted to the position of head of the College of Social Science and pro vice-chancellor.

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