Understanding Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement

Welcome to Episode 3 of Our Student Voice.

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

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Your experience as a student in TU Dublin is of central importance to TU Dublin. As a University, we strive to continuously improve all aspects of the student experience, including what takes place inside and outside the classroom.

Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement are the formal and informal processes and procedures that we use to ensure that TU Dublin students have an excellent learning experience and that TU Dublin graduates have the knowledge, skills and competencies required for their future lives and careers.

TU Dublin's Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement processes set out, for example, the rules relating to student feedback, the procedure for making changes to improve programmes, and the methods for calculating marks and grades for students.

It is essential that, along with staff, students are active partners in the design and implementation of the formal and informal Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement processes and procedures.

As a Class Representative it is particularly important that you are fully informed about how TU Dublin's Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement processes and procedures operate, and how you can engage with these processes and procedures for the benefit of yourself and your classmates.

TU Dublin's Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement processes and procedures are set out in the TU Dublin Quality Framework. The principles underpinning the TU Dublin Quality Framework state that the Quality Framework will:

  • Assure the quality of the total student experience, require good practice in all aspects of student learning, and foster and support a student-centred learning environment;
  • Be underpinned by the assumption that there is always scope for the further enhancement and hence all processes will aim to continually improve the student learning experience;
  • Be transparent, evidence-based and objective, and will rigorously interrogate academic standards and identify best practice.

While staff, industry, the professions and others will be involved in the Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement processes and procedures, the student voice is the central and critical element. It is your responsibility to make sure that the Student Voice is heard!

As a class representative, or as a student in TU Dublin, it is important that you:

Know how TU Dublin's Quality Framework is used to enhance your programme: The Quality Framework describes all the relevant roles, processes and procedures relating to student feedback, programme management, programme monitoring and programme review.

Be an expert partner for quality enhancement: Students are essential partners for quality enhancement because of their expertise in the lived student experience. Students provide expert input through formal and informal feedback and through programme boards.

Use your Student Handbook: Every student in TU Dublin receives a Student Handbook that sets out the rules that apply to their programme, that provides a detailed description of their programme, and that provides other important information.

The TU Dublin Quality Framework was developed to assure the quality of (Quality Assurance), and enhance the quality of (Quality Enhancement), your programme and your overall student experience.

There are a number of elements to this which are all described in the Quality Framework section of the TU Dublin website.

The remainder of this section will highlight some of the more important parts of this framework.

Standards and Guidelines

TU Dublin's Quality Framework ensures that our programmes are aligned to national and international standards and guidelines.

National standards are defined by the QQI - Quality and Qualifications Ireland - a government body that is responsible for "promoting the quality, integrity and reputation of Ireland’s further and higher education system".

European standards are set out in the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG) which are agreed across the European Higher Education Area.

Both the national and international standards and guidelines have been developed with input from students, Universities, the professions, and wider society.

In Ireland, QQI provides a framework through which the standards associated with each of ten separate levels of learning are defined. This is the National Framework of Qualifications

Programmes that lead to qualifications that are aligned with a level of the National Framework of Qualifications must have Learning Outcomes that align with the level indicators for that level. They must also have Learning and Teaching methods and Assessment methods that align with the Learning Outcomes.

Programme Validation

All programmes must go through a programme validation process when they are designed.

The main purpose of the validation procedures of new programmes and awards is to ensure that all new programmes developed by the University are aligned to the standards set out by the University (and aligned to national and international standards).

In advance of a validation, a School in TU Dublin will prepare a large volume of documentation that includes the programme rules, the module descriptors, and a document that sets out the need for the programme. 

A panel is then formed, including representatives from industry, the professions, other Universities and other Schools in TU Dublin. The panel will review the documentation and meet with the School for a whole day to ask questions about the proposed programme. The Panel will then make a recommendation to the University about whether to proceed with the programme. Before making their recommendation, the Panel must consider, among other things, whether the proposed programme:

  • Aligns with to the University’s Educational Model and learning, teaching and assessment strategy, guidelines and policies;
  • Aligns with the National Framework of Qualifications at the appropriate level;
  • Fulfils an identifiable industry and/or social need;
  • Provides each student with the best educational experience that the University can provide;
  • Uses the most appropriate teaching methods to achieve the learning outcomes;
  • Provides pathways to further qualifications that maximise opportunities for access, transfer and progression

The full validation procedures are set out in the Approved Programme Validation Process.

Once the programme is validated, TU Dublin can then begin to set up the structures required to manage the programme and then commence recruiting students.

Programme Management

There are many people, committees and boards involved in programme management. These people, committees and boards are responsible for running the programme day-to-day, ensuring that the required standards are met, and working to enhance the programme.

These roles, committees and boards include: 

  • Programme Team: This is the team of lecturers who are responsible for teaching the programme.
  • Programme Co-Ordinator: This is the person who takes overall responsibility for the programme.
  • Year Tutor: This is the person responsible for supporting and advising students in a specific year of the programme.
  • Head of Discipline: This is the person responsible for the disciplinary area in which this programme is located in the School in TU Dublin.
  • Head of School: This is the person who manages the School in which the programme is located.
  • Class Representative: This is you! The student representative who liaises with the year tutor and the programme team, as required.
  • Internal Examiners: These are the people who write and mark your assessments. These are usually your lecturers.
  • External Examiners: These are people from other Universities or from industry or the professions who visit TU Dublin once a year to ensure that the standard of your programme is at the level required. They often meet with students as part of their visit.
  • Discipline Programme Boards: These are the boards that approve amendments to programmes within a particular discipline area, and that maintain oversight of how Quality Asssurance and Quality Enhancement are implemented.
  • Faculty Boards: These boards are at a higher level than the Discipline Programme Boards, and maintain more general oversight of Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement. There are five Faculties in TU Dublin and each one has its own Faculty Board which is run by the Dean of the Faculty. All validations, reviews and significant amendments require the approval of the Faculty Board.
  • University Programmes Board: This is a high-level board in TU Dublin that is required to approve all new programmes and maintain oversight of the Faculty Boards.
  • Academic Quality Assurance and Enhancement Committee: This is a high-level committee in TU Dublin that ensures that Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement are effectively implemented.
  • Academic Council: This is the highest level in TU Dublin. The President leads this Council which has overall authority for all Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement in TU Dublin.

Find out more about programme management in the Approved Programme Management Process.

Annual Quality Enhancement

Each Programme Team and Discipline Programmes Board in the University is required to take time each year to consider what happened in this year as its programmes were being taught.

The Programme Team and Discipline Programmes Board are asked to identify actions that will be required to be undertaken to enhance the programme and the student experience.

The input from students, achieved through student feedback and through Class Representatives, is essential for the development of an effective set of actions.

The set of actions is called the Quality Enhancement Plan.

Each programme's Quality Enhancement Plan forms a part of the relevant Faculty  Quality Enhancement Plan and the University Quality Enhancement Plan, which reflect all the actions that are required at each level in TU Dublin to enhance TU Dublin's programmes and TU Dublin's student experience.

It is essential that you, as a Class Representative, actively participate in this process.

To find out more about Annual Quality Enhancement, see the Approved Annual Quality Enhancement Process.

Making Changes to Programmes and Modules

One type of action that may be included in a Quality Enhancement Plan is an amendment to a module or a programme.

Amendments are made to ensure that the programme is up to date and that it is providing students with an excellent learning experience.

Amendments may include:

  • The addition of new topics and Learning Outcomes onto the programme.
  • Changes to how the programme is taught.
  • Changes to how modules on the programme are assessed.
  • Changes to the entry requirements for the programme.
  • Changes to the title of the programme or its modules.
  • Changes to any of the rules that apply to the programme e.g. which modules are core and which are optional.

Consultation with students is required for all forms of amendment. As a Class Representative, it is important that you engage with any proposed amendment and bring it to the attention of your classmates. You can also propose amendments to your programme, via the Discipline Programmes Board.

Final approval for some amendments is at the level of the Discipline Programmes Board. Other amendments require the approval of the Faculty Board, the University Programmes Board and/or Academic Council.

Find out more about programme and module amendments in the Approved Changes to Programes & Modules Process.

Programme Reviews

A programme review provides an opportunity for the University to conduct a critical evaluation of a programme or a portfolio of programmes and to make significant changes to the programme or programmes if appropriate.

Programme reviews are carried out to enhance the programme, based on the input and feedback of staff, students, industry, the relevant profession and society more broadly.

TU Dublin carries out programme reviews on ongoing basis for purposes of Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement.

The programme review process is very similar to the programme validation process descrived earlier, as documentation is prepared and a panel visits TU Dublin to meet with the schools. The panel's responsibilities are very similar to a programe validation.

A major difference between a programme review and a programme validation is that because a programme review deals with a programme that has been running, the students on the programme play an active role both in the critical evaluation, and in the meeting with the panel.

It is important that you, as a Class Representative, are fully informed about your involvement in the event of a programme review taking place for your programme.

To find out more about Programme Reviews, see Approved Programme Review Process.

Review also take place for Schools and Faculties. You can find out about these reviews here:

Approved School Review Process

Approved Faculty Review Process

Only TU Dublin students know what the student experience in TU Dublin is like. Students experience TU Dublin different to lecturers, different to management and different to external stakeholders like work placement employers.

Students are the only people in TU Dublin with expertise in the lived student experience of a TU Dublin student.

Therefore, students are essential partners for Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement.

Students provide their expert input through formal and informal feedback to their lecturers and programme team, and through Discipline Programme Boards. Class Representatives often provide feedback on behalf of their class, and thus they become the expert partner to advise on the student experience. Without this partnership, TU Dublin would be unable to achieve its objectives for Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement.

All students experience their programmes, and their lives differently. Therefore, there are many different student voices. As a Class Representative, you need to represent all of these voices.


Every student in TU Dublin receives a Student Handbook that sets out the rules that apply to their programme, that provides a detailed description of their programme, and that provides other important information.

As a Class Representative, it is particularly important that you are able to refer to this important document.

Your Student Handbook should provide you with the following information about your programme:

  • Programme Title: What your programme is called, and what your qualification will be once you graduate.
  • Programme Learning Outcomes: What you will know and be able to do once you successfully complete the programme.
  • NFQ Level: The level of your programme on the National Framework of Qualifications.
  • Professional accreditation of programme: If your programme is accredited by a professional body, this means that the body has reviewed your programme to ensure that graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills to work in the profession. Information on the accreditation, if any, is provided in your Student Handbook. Many professions do not require this, so don't be concerned if you don't find this information. 
  • Contact details: This will include contact details for the programme coordinator, year tutor, school administrative office, Head of School, lecturing staff teaching on the programme and other contacts that may be relevant. This may also include a protocol for how to communicate with lecturers.
  • Modules and Assessment: The list of modules that you will study this year, their detailed descriptions, and information on how you will be assessed on each of these modules (e.g. examination, coursework, combination of both).
  • Calendar and Timetable: Information on how to access your timetable, and how to locate the academic calendar (showing which are teaching weeks, which are assessment weeks, and when the holidays are scheduled).
  • Other Information: Additional information will include how to access facilities online and in-person, protocol for behaviour online and in-person, supports available and tips for success, and career opportunities.
  • Programme Rules: This will include information on how you progress from one year of the programme to the next year, what will happen if you need to repeat a module or a year, and what you need to do to graduate from your programme. (This may simply refer to the TU Dublin policy.)

If you and your classmates have not received your Student Handbook, contact your year tutor to ask for a copy. Note that it may be a hard copy printed document, a soft copy document (e.g. a file on Brightspace/Moodle), or it might be in some other format (e.g. a website).

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 Active Class Representative, Curriculum Co-Designer, and Quality Assurance Expert Digital Badges.

Learning Activity 3.1. Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement

Review the Quality Framework documentation linked to above and create a diagram / brief essay (1 page) / video (~1 minute) to illustrate clearly the various points at which you, as a Class Representative can become involved in the management, review and enhancement of a programme.

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

Learning Activity 3.2. Reflection Upon Module

Reflect on a module you’re taking and three things that you would like to improve. Use the Quality Framework documentation to find out how you can progress your ideas. Describe your actions and your plan to progress these actions.

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

To find out more about Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement, review the documentation available from: