ACADEMIC standards and quality of educational provision at the University of Chester have been praised in a report by a higher education watchdog.
The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) has issued its findings from an institutional audit carried out at the university in March.
The QAA audit is designed to provide the public with information about the learning opportunities made available to students, and on the academic standards of the awards that the university offers.
The audit team has commended the University of Chester for its good practice in ensuring standards and enhancing the quality of learning opportunities, the supportive relationships that underpin the learning and working in the institution and the strength of its partnership work which was described as ‘exemplary’.
Among other areas of good practice praised by the auditors were the strong personal engagement of all staff, supportive relationships underpinning learning and teaching, partnerships between faculties and central quality assurance services, and collaborative work with key partners.
Auditors also praised the effectiveness of the university’s Work Based and Integrative Studies (WBIS) programme – a degree tailored to provide academic recognition of learning undertaken primarily in the workplace which gives credit for prior learning.
The audit team was ‘impressed by the evidence it found of the effectiveness off the WBIS framework in providing flexible, responsive and relevant educational opportunities to work-based learners’.
Suggesting areas where the university could further enhance its excellent work, auditors advised that the university reviews the consistency with which its faculty boards consider annual monitoring reports, and develops clear criteria for entering into partnership arrangements where it does not itself teach the subjects concerned.
It also suggests that the university could continue to strengthen its oversight of post-graduate taught provision and consider ways of ensuring that post-graduate students always receive full support before they undertake teaching or assessment.
Professor Graeme White, Dean of Academic Quality and Standards, said: “We’re delighted that the QAA has given such a ringing endorsement of the university’s commitment to academic standards and to a high-quality learning experience for our students.
“We're already working on the helpful suggestions the audit team made for further improvements.
“However, we are very pleased that key features of the university, such as the dedicated support for students’ learning, welfare and future employability, and our collaborative work with employers, further education colleges and other partners, have been commended so warmly by the QAA.”
He added: “The university is grateful to the QAA for the manner in which the audit was conducted and for the helpful recommendations arising from it.
“In the next phase of our development, we shall take full account of these recommendations, all of which have already begun to be addressed.
“However, the university will also seek to build upon the many strengths described in the report.
“We are proud of our wide-ranging student support, our shared approach to quality assurance and enhancement, and our commitment to collaborative provision, employability and work-based learning, and it is particularly pleasing that these have been highlighted by the audit process.”
The report can be read in full at www.qaa.ac.uk.