May 2016

Quality Assured at LSBM!

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The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) is an independent body that is entrusted with advising on and monitoring standards and quality in UK Higher Education.  One of its principal activities is visiting Higher Education (HE) institutions across the UK, assessing standards and then publishing its findings.  This ensures that potential students can read an impartial and independent review of the institutions where they are looking to study, before making a decision. In practice this means that:

  • Institutional marketing hyperbole can be bypassed by students and the facts highlighted by an independent review body. This allows students to compare institutions based on the same criteria, and reach conclusions based on the truth, not a glossy brochure.
  • If satisfactory standards have not been achieved then the institution can be red-lined for speedy improvement by the QAA and further remedial action taken.
  • Good practice can also be highlighted both for the benefit of students and disseminated to other institutions (via QAA reports) with the aim of raising standards across HE as a whole.

The London School of Business and Management (LSBM) has always gladly embraced the QAA assessment process as a means of highlighting areas of strength that can be further enhanced, and also pointing out any areas of weakness where change would be beneficial.

In October 2015 we underwent our latest review by the QAA, which was published in January 2016, and were pleased not only to meet expectations in all areas, but also to be commended for our good practices in the enhancement of student learning opportunities.

It is worth pointing out that good practice commendations for the enhancement of student learning opportunities in the latest review are relatively rare.  As at 21 January 2016, 164 institutions had undergone a QAA Higher Education Review and had their report published on the QAA website.  Out of these 164 institutions, only 21 (12.8%) had been commended for the enhancement of their student learning opportunities.  We are one of these 21, which places us in the top 12.8% of institutions with regards to enhancement.

You can read the full LSBM QAA Report here on the Quality Assurance Agency website.

The QAA review team identified the following five features of good practice at the London School of Business and Management:

  1. The strong governance framework that goes beyond the requirements placed on the School by its awarding bodies and organisations.
  2. The clear strategy and extensive support for improving teaching and learning.
  3. The wide range of effective support mechanisms that enable students to develop their academic and personal potential.
  4. The effective and full integration of the annual monitoring process into corporate governance and the annual resource planning cycle.
  5. The strong strategic approach to enhancing the quality of learning opportunities, which is embedded in organisational structures and processes.

Just recently we were proud to have featured in a new publication from the QAA called, “Good Practice in Higher Education Review – A Collection of Case Studies”, which highlighted 14 institutions who had received commended judgements in their latest QAA review and we were among them (page 9 of the report).

The Case Studies are useful as they hone in on the specifics and go into much greater detail as to why the commended finding was reached.  In this case the QAA looked at point five above, and highlighted the following ten areas of good practice connected with it that LSBM had demonstrated:

  1. LSBM provides extensive support for the continuing professional development (CPD) of its staff, with all academic staff being supported to become Fellows or Senior Fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA).
  2. Good teaching practice is identified and shared both through the Teaching and Learning Forum (TLF) and at the annual Teaching and Learning Conference that LSBM has held every year for the last six years.  (Read details here about the upcoming conference on 12 July 2016, which takes as its theme, ‘To Boldly Go! Redefining the Inclusive Curriculum in HE’).
  3. HEA recognition and the use of the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) to enhance teaching are central tenets of LSBM’s academic strategy and key drivers for staff development.
  4. At an institutional level, the active commitment to CPD is reflected in an extensive range of staff opportunities that include Research Seminars, an eLearning Reading Group, the Teaching and Learning Conference, and over 30 in-house CPD events annually.
  5. LSBM has invested in EvaSys software to conduct a range of sophisticated surveys on the quality of teaching and learning and to inform further improvements.
  6. To convert strategy to practice, LSBM has a generous remission for research/scholarship, especially in the areas of teaching and learning.
  7. In addition, there is funding for each individual academic staff member for CPD, which is in addition to departmental CPD budgets.
  8. There is also a tangible reward for good teaching and learning through an annual prize for the best virtual learning environment.
  9. From 2016, there will be a ‘Best Teacher’ award that will be voted on directly by the students. The award is for the teacher who makes the most difference to students’ learning experiences.
  10. Areas for development are also collated and discussed, as well as being identified through course-specific annual monitoring and evaluation, and then summarised in an overview report to inform planning and budget setting for the future.

In addition to these ten points, the Quality Assurance Agency also highlighted in their Case Study that the benefits for students of these measures are demonstrated at the London School of Business and Management by the positive feedback gained through module evaluation questionnaires and meetings of the Student Staff Consultative Forum.

This high level of student satisfaction is a key component of the educational experience at LSBM that we have been very proud of over the years. It is evidenced not only by the growing number of students who recommend their friends to study with us, but also by the large number of glowing student testimonials that speak louder than any report could about the positive academic and social experience that students enjoy when studying at LSBM.

We are glad to have our efforts in these areas highlighted by the independent Quality Assurance Agency, and look forward to continually improving and serving our students, staff and the wider community in the best way we can in the future.

You can read the full ‘Good Practice in Higher Education Review – A Collection of Case Studies’ (PDF – opens in new window) here.

 

Stuart Brown
Media and Content Manager

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  • 1 Malet Street, London, WC1E 7JN.