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Quality Review Process & Guidelines

Quality Review Process & Guidelines

Quality review is a developmental process which is carried out in academic, administrative and support units on a 7 year cycle. Periodically, reviews will also be undertaken of cross-College structures, such as major Programmes, Graduate School Boards and Research Institutes. From time to time, thematic reviews of University-wide issues (e.g. first year student experience; staff/student consultation mechanisms) are also carried out. Typically the review model comprises four key elements:

  • Preparation of a Self-Assessment Report (SAR)

  • A site visit by a Review Group that includes internal (UCD) and external experts, both national and international

  • Preparation of a Review Group Report

  • Agreement of an action plan (Quality Improvement Plan (QIP)) to effect improvement

Quality Assurance is not a static but a dynamic process.  It should be continuous and not 'once in a lifetime'.  It does not end with the first review or with the completion of the formal follow-up procedures. It has to be periodically renewed.  Subsequent external reviews should take into account progress that has been made since the previous event.

The University's strategic and holistic approach to academic unit review acknowledges that the various aspects of a unit's operations (strategy and organisation, teaching and learning, assessment strategies, research and resources) are inter-related and ensures that members of the unit come together to reflect upon what they are trying to achieve in all aspects of their work, and how these different areas of activity impact upon one another.  All members of the unit, both academic and non-academic, are included in the review and are expected to engage, as appropriate, in discussions and the preparation of all materials, as a collegial activity.  The primary focus of the review is on quality improvement.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic which emerged in Ireland in March 2020, and with the associated restrictions and the comprehensive transition to remote working for the University, the conduct of the Periodic Quality Review process and associated site visit likewise switched to a remote format.  To this end, the Academic Council Quality Enhancement Committee (ACQEC) approved a proposal to temporarily conduct Periodic Quality Review site visits remotely at its meeting of 30 April 2020, and the UCD Quality Office developed a supplemental Operational Working Document for the conduct of such remote site visits.

Under the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Act 2012 (2012 Act) a 'Designated Awarding Body' (DAB) is defined as a previously established university, the NUI, an educational institution established as a university under Section 9 of the Universities Act 1997, the DIT and RCSI.

'Linked Provider' under the 2012 Act, is a provider that is not a DAB but enters into an arrangement with a DAB under which arrangement the provider provides a programme of education and training that satisfies all or part of the prerequisites for an award of the DAB, e.g. a UCD Recognised College.

Under the 2012 Act each DAB has three core responsibilities concerning a Linked Provider:

    1. To review and approve the Linked Provider Quality Assurance Framework;
    2. To monitor the implementation of the Linked Provider Quality Assurance Framework;
    3. To periodically review the effectiveness of the Linked Provider Quality Assurance Framework.

UCD has published the following Quality Assurance Guidelines relating to Linked Providers:‌

UCD is the DAB for the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) and the Institute of Banking (IoB)

Approved Linked Provider Quality Assurance Procedures:

Linked Providers are also subject to Periodic Quality Review - for more information, see Linked Provider Periodic Quality Review Reports.

Increased internationalisation is a feature of the Irish education and training system. The opportunities represented by these activities, for individual institutions and for the education and training system as a whole, are significant. The risks associated with these activities also need to be considered.

The UCD Global Relations and Partnerships Team oversees the development and overall management of the University's global university partnerships, providing guidance and suppoort to University staff on the development of these partnerships and the enhancement of existing partnerships in line with the University's Global Engagement Strategy.

The provision of higher education programmes in a collaborative or transnational context can be challenging.  It is considered good practice that institutions establish specific procedures for the approval, monitoring and review of collaborative and transnational programmes and associated institutional partnerships.

Collaborative and transnational programme arrangements take a variety of forms.  Some common examples include research, joint awards, articulation, franchise, validation and student exchange.

Periodic Quality Review of collaborative programme partnerships is one of the main ways by which UCD assures itself of the quality of: the student learning experience; the academic provision; and the organisation of the partnership.  The Quality Review Panel should also consider whether the partnership continues to meet the strategic aims of UCD and whether the partnership continues to be of benefit to all parties.

The Panel will review the relationship between UCD and the partner, in the context of the programme(s) delivery, having regard, for example, to the student experience and to operational and quality assurance matters, making specific reference to the QQi Statutory Quality Assurance Guidelines; UCD policies and procedures; and other relevant guidelines, as appropriate.

As the nature of the collaborative partnership and scope of provision may vary between arrangements, UCD will take a flexible approach to the structure of the Self-Assessment Report (SAR).

The guidelines below relate primarily to the delivery of taught collaborative programme partnerships - differentiated monitoring and review procedures for major/minor collaborative arrangements are currently being considered. Some types of collaborative activity are beyond the scope of the guidelines, for example student exchanges, articulation, student placements/study abroad and joint research and cotutelle arrangements, as these are more appropriately monitored at a local or School level, such as through a School Committee or Programme Board.

UCD Guidelines for Periodic Review of Collaborative Programme Partnerships (April 2019)

In addition to the periodic quality review of units, the University also undertakes both broader and/ or more focused reviews. Thematic reviews allow close scrutiny of key areas and their operation across the University, in order to facilitate a greater focus of attention on the area of activity under review, that other quality assurance processes may not engender.

Thematic review is broadly defined as one in which an activity or function relating to the strategic objectives of the University is reviewed, with recommendations for improvement being made. Such reviews will be tailored to the particular activity.