Participating Effectively in Quality Assurance Panels

Welcome to Episode 13 of Our Student Voice.

To view and interact with the introductory video, click on Start Here in the video screen.

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QA Panels

It is TU Dublin policy to carry out Quality Reviews of its Schools, Faculties and Professional Services periodically.

Reviews help ensure that these units achieve their objectives and respond to the needs of students, as well as employers and broader society.

As a student, you may be invited to participate in a panel as part of a Quality Review.

The Role of the Student Representative

Reviews are undertaken by a Panel of reviewers both internal and external to TU Dublin.

A member of staff from Academic Affairs shall also participate and will provide guidance and support to the Panel.

All panel members come to these processes with different expertise, experience and viewpoints.

You are not expected to be an expert on the subject/professional area: that will be the role of the external panel members.

Nor will you need to know details on all the University’s policies, processes and regulations: internal staff members and the Academic Affairs representative will advise in this regard.

As a student you are an expert in the student experience, based on your engagement with your study and with University processes and services.

This knowledge is fundamental to assessing quality in higher education and of critical importance to TU Dublin.  

As a student representative in TU Dublin, it is important that you remember the following when you are participating in quality assurance panels:

Understand the relevant quality assurance process: This involves learning about the responsibilities of the panel, the role of Student Representatives, and the stages and output of the panel’s work.

Be prepared for the panel meeting: The panel meeting can last for several days and involve separate sessions with students, staff and external stakeholders. It is essential that you have carefully reviewed relevant documentation in preparation for the panel meeting.

Participate professionally as a member of the panel: You provide an important student perspective during the review of documentation and at the panel meeting. In order to be effective, you must actively and professionally participate at all stages of the panel’s work.

Review Panels review the performance of one of the above types of unit (e.g. School, Faculty, Professional Service) based on the Self-Evaluation Report (SER) prepared by the unit and the supporting information provided.  

In the Self-Evaluation Report the unit will critically review its role and activities, identify where things are working well as well as areas where it might do things differently or require support.  

Specific criteria for consideration by the unit as well as the Panel are included in the specific processes documents.

As a Panel member, you will seek to confirm the unit’s own findings outlined in the Self-Evaluation Report.

You will do so, along with other Panel members, through engagement with the unit management, staff, students, graduates, other user groups and external stakeholders (eg collaborative partners, work placement providers), where applicable.  

At the end of the review visit, the Panel, supported by Academic Affairs, will draft a report according to the agreed template, and shall agree commendations where there is evidence of good practice, and recommendations where areas for improvement have been identified. It may also make additional observations, if appropriate, for consideration by TU Dublin. 

The review process will involve consideration of documentation prepared by the unit under review.  

All Panel members should receive this 3-4 weeks in advance of the meeting to give you time to read and prepare.  

The review visit will include attendance for the duration of the review schedule – this might be a two or three day review.  

The review visit shall include meetings with the management of the unit under review, staff within that unit, students, graduates (where applicable) and other relevant individuals as appropriate.

The review schedule shall also include time for the panel to discuss in private their views on the documentation and their feedback on the various meetings.  

As a Panel member you will receive the following documentation in advance of the review visit.

  • Unit Self-Evaluation Report (SER)
  • Guidance notes for panel members
  • List of panel members
  • Schedule of review meetings

Other supporting documentation may be provided by the unit, as listed in the processes specific to the nature of the review.  

For example, for a School Review you would expect to receive Student Handbooks for programmes in the School.

The Guidance Notes will help guide you in your reading of the Self-Evaluation Report.  

The Self-Evaluation Report will in turn inform your consideration of the supporting documentation.  It is likely that there will be a great deal of supporting documentation.

While you should spend some time looking through this documentation and knowing what each contains, you’re not likely to have time to read all of it in detail.

You should pick those documents that are likely to contain further information and/or evidence on topics where the Self-Evaluation Report has sparked your interest.

This process will help you identify the topics and questions that you would like to raise during the review meetings.

Meeting etiquette for review panels is formal, especially during the sessions with staff and students etc.  

Even at the private sessions, lunch and dinner, remember that these are part of the process too and you should behave appropriately and professionally at all times.

You should take care to:

  • Be on time for each session
  • Dress appropriately: very formal attire is not required, but avoid track suits or any very casual attire
  • Be courteous and listen to others.

You should follow the lead of the Panel Chairperson as to how each meeting will be handled.

For example, it is usually agreed prior to the commencement of formal meetings what questions or topics the Panel members wish to raise, and an individual panel member may be asked to lead on a particular issue.

Discussions during review meetings will usually prompt additional questions from Panel members.

If that is the case, raise your hand to indicate to the Chairperson that you wish to speak and you will be invited to speak.

The Chairperson will usually give all Panel members the opportunity to ask final questions at the end of each meeting.

Between the formal meetings, there will be private Panel meetings where members will give their feedback on earlier sessions and plan for upcoming meetings.  

These meetings are also an opportunity for you to ask about any points that you don’t understand or where you need clarification.  If you would like to raise an issue at a future session but you’re not sure if or where it is appropriate to ask the question, you can seek the advice of the Chairperson and the Academic Affairs representative.

By the end of the review meetings, Panel members will be expected to provide an input into the draft report, with commendations for examples of good practice, recommendations where action is needed, as well as any other observations.  

You will be expected to contribute to this work. To assist you with this, you should take some notes during the review, especially of key points that you consider might be captured in the report.  

Following the review, Academic Affairs will circulate the draft report and you will be expected to read the report and revert with any comments or suggested amendments.

The report will then be finalised and sent to the unit for consideration.  

The unit is required to respond to the Panel’s report and to provide an action plan to address the Panel’s recommendations.

Again, Academic Affairs shall circulate this to Panel members and you will be expected to consider this plan and to revert with feedback which might include requests for clarification, or more information on the suggested action.

These learning activities are designed to help you develop the knowledge and skills required for this episode. These learning activities are also a requirement for the Quality Assurance Expert Digital Badge.

Learning Activity 13.1. Your First Panel

Congratulations!  You’ve been invited to participate in a Quality Review Panel.

To prepare for this review:

  • Read the Self Evaluation Report (SER) prepared by the unit under review.
  • Take notes of key points arising from the SER, bearing in mind the purpose of the review as described in the process and other guidance provided.
  • Read the supporting documentation provided and find further information/evidence on the key points from the SER.  
  • Following on from the above exercise, identify areas/issues that you consider should be discussed during the review meetings.
  • Prepare five questions that you would like to ask, including which of the meetings at which you would like to ask this.

If you are working towards a Digital Badge, include this (or a link to this) in your E-Portfolio.

Learning Activity 13.2. Post-Panel Evaluation

You’ve participated in a Quality Review and the review is now completed.  

In order to advise others who are participating in quality reviews, you should:

  • Reflect on your participation in this review, including your preparation in advance of the review and your participation during the review meetings.
  • Consider what you think worked well and what you might do differently for any future reviews you are involved in.
  • Identify key points that you would pass on to others who are participating in quality reviews, to help them in their role.

If you are working towards a Digital Badge, include this (or a link to this) in your E-Portfolio.

Continue to familiarise yourself with the TU Dublin Quality Framework.