Learn about our three key areas for education

Wyn Morgan

Professor Wyn Morgan, Vice-President for Education, discusses three of our main focus areas for education over the coming months.

Programme Level Approach

As a University we are moving towards a Programme Level Approach (PLA) - a holistic rather than modular approach to the design (content, structure and assessment) of a programme or course.

We believe that in designing our programmes from the students’ perspective, we will be able to deliver high quality teaching that inspires and engages students; that prepares them for the world beyond the University; and ensures that we are maximising the benefits of innovative approaches to teaching and assessing.

This is the biggest change we’ve made to teaching and learning here at the University since the 1990s. We also hope that this new way of working will not only improve the student experience, but provide departments with the opportunity to reduce staff workload, freeing up colleagues to work on their research or educational activities that create richer student interaction beyond the classroom.

We are currently working with academic departments to identify how we can improve the appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of assessment practice, and ultimately to reduce assessment burden. Departments will also be engaging students in the PLA process and finding out how they experience assessment and feedback within programmes and how this might be improved.

We are working together so that all departments will have adopted PLA for taught programmes by the end of the current Learning and Teaching Strategy (2021).

Teaching Excellence Framework

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a national exercise, introduced by the government. It aims to assess excellence in teaching at universities and colleges, and how well they ensure excellent outcomes for their students in terms of graduate-level employment or further study, student satisfaction and student retention. Institutions can be awarded a gold, silver or bronze. Our University was awarded TEF Silver last year (2017) for ‘delivering high quality teaching, learning and outcomes….and consistently exceeding rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education.’ Taking part in TEF is not optional and is a requirement for all publicly funded universities, as part of the registration conditions of the Office for Students (OfS). The OfS is the new independent regulator of higher education.

TEF ratings are currently only given at an institutional level but from 2019 onwards, TEF will be assessed and ratings will be published at both a subject and provider level. The strong expectation is that TEF awards will begin to be used by prospective students to differentiate between universities and courses, which becomes even more important given we wish to continue to attract the best students and be known for our high quality teaching.

We will begin work this month on our submission to renew our institutional-level TEF award. In parallel we are working with academic departments to help prepare for subject-level TEF. This involves using existing data to identify areas where improvements can be made at a departmental level that will have a positive impact on our students’ experience of learning and teaching and its outcomes.

Student evaluation

We firmly believe that the student voice should be front and centre of curriculum and teaching design. Our aim is to improve student evaluation by having a more consistent approach to the questions we ask, how we review findings, and how we update students on action taken.

This academic year will see the first steps towards creating a unified and consistent University-wide approach to student evaluation. For 2018-19 end of module and programme evaluations, we will be introducing a core set of common questions across all departments and programmes. Our longer term aim is to move to a single system, which will allow for online completion and provide departments with better reporting and analysis.