D. VALIDATION D.4 Full Validation Process .1 Purpose The purpose of the validation process is to ensure the School/Division has proposed a coherent course structure which is appropriate to the name of the award, the level of the award and the subject to be validated and that the requirements for students to achieve the stated learning outcomes are clear. The Programme Development Proforma (PDP) must be able to demonstrate that the course can be delivered within the current resource base of the School/Division and Faculty or that appropriate additional resources are agreed. The Panel must assure itself that the course is able to operate at a threshold quality standard or above in comparison to other awards in the College and at the national level. By implication this assurance must be extended to all of the College’s stakeholders including potential and current students, parents, employers and society at large. In the case of postgraduate qualifications and final year honours work, the Panel will also want to assure itself that the necessary scholarly activity exists to underpin the higher level work and that there is appropriate intellectual challenge. No validation event (i.e. Full Validation Stage 2 or Streamlined Validation) will be held until the PDP has been approved and such approval lodged with the QASU. .2 Criteria Validation events need to be focused and to examine the proposed provision on the basis of explicit criteria. There are three related sets of criteria to establish, namely: (i) input criteria based on admission requirements; (ii) process, based on the overall learning experience; and (iii) output criteria, based on clear and explicit statements of what should be achieved. Validation events must, therefore, be encouraged to focus on these concepts in order to define clearly what is required and what is expected. In defining the context for validation it will be necessary for the Panel to consider and place an emphasis on: (i) comparability of the award with other College awards and to take account of modes of delivery, relevant Subject Benchmarks, Programme Specifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ), and external influences as appropriate, for example Statutory and Professional Body requirements or links with employers; (ii) determining the expectations at admission to the programme of study; (iii) determining and defining in positive terms those attributes that a student is required to demonstrate to achieve a pass at each classification of the award; (iv) defining in a clear and concise manner the output criteria for the award(s); and (v) the qualifications and expertise of the proposed Course Team. The information available for validation should provide sufficient evidence via documentation and discussion from which the Validation Panel can make an informed decision on the outcome of the process. A guide to the core aspects is provided under the College’s Threshold Criteria for Validation (see section D9), Level Descriptors (see section D10) and Qualification Descriptors (see section D11). .3 Process Stage 1 - Faculty Evaluation This stage is designed to assess the full documentation supporting the proposal and to provide opportunities for further development if necessary. Authority is vested in the Faculty to operate this process and provide the evidence of its satisfactory operation to the Stage 2 Validation Committee. The Faculty has the authority to require changes to the documentation before it proceeds to the final stage of validation or to refer it back to the School/Division for further detailed revisions. Stage 1 Inputs Input at this stage will be from a Faculty Panel comprised as follows: FASC Chair or nominated FASC member (Chair of Panel) Member of academic staff from the Faculty (not from proposing subject area) For cross Faculty proposals a member of academic staff from the partner Faculty (not from the proposing subject area) The Dean or his/her nominee Faculty Administrative Officer (FAO) The Panel will come together to conduct an initial evaluation of the proposal. The Chair of FASC or his/her nominee will Chair the Panel. The responsibility of this Panel is to investigate and provide a written report to confirm that: the Concept Development (if appropriate) and Programme Development Pro forma (PDP) have been completed and submitted to the Portfolio Development Sub-Committee (PDSC) and Office of Associated Institutions (where appropriate) for approval, and that the proposal presented for validation aligns with the information contained within the PDP; the proposal falls within the relevant Academic Regulations. The FAO and Panel Chair should seek guidance from the Academic Registrar or APL Officer if any regulatory issues are identified; the arrangements for the management and quality assurance of the programme are clear and appropriate; the proposal reflects College requirements in terms of threshold criteria, level descriptors, completeness, accuracy and presentation of the information provided in the documentation and falls within the Faculty Academic Plan. Stage 1 Process The process will consist of a meeting between the Course Team and the Faculty Panel and the outcome will be a report from the Faculty that may set conditions and/or recommendations in order to address any issues raised by scrutiny of the documents. These conditions and/or recommendations must be addressed before the documents are submitted for the Stage 2 College Validation event. The report from the Stage 1 event will be made available to the Stage 2 College Validation Committee. It is the responsibility of the Stage 1 event Chair and Dean of Faculty to sign off Stage 1 of the process as having been satisfactorily completed before the course proposal can proceed to Stage 2. Where the proposal involves another Faculty, both Deans must sign the proposal off before it can proceed to the College Stage 2. The flow chart at section D12 shows the expected type of process at Stages 1 and 2 and the timescales involved. Stage 2 – College level evaluation and approval This stage is designed to judge the proposal against the threshold criteria for course validation, level descriptors and qualification descriptors. Within this context, opportunities to improve further aspects of the proposal in the form of conditions or recommendations attached to the approval exist. It will be a process operated by the College Validation Committee (CVC). The CVC has the authority to approve, approve with conditions and/or recommendations, or not approve a proposal at this stage. Stage 2 Inputs Inputs at this stage will be from a College Validation Committee which includes: - A Validation Chair, normally drawn from the relevant Faculty Standing Panel. All Validation Chairs must be on the list approved by ASC. An internal peer drawn from a Faculty other than the proposing one. An internal peer drawn from the proposing faculty but not from the proposing School /Division. External academic subject specialists (two specialists are normally required) referred to as ‘external advisers’. The School/Division is at liberty to nominate an external non-academic adviser of standing from industry or the professions to join the Committee, instead of one academic, if this would be helpful to the discussions. External Advisers will be asked to submit written comments to QASU one week before the validation event. These comments will be distributed to the CVC and the Head of School/Division. An Officer from the Quality Assurance and Standards Unit. Stage 2 Process The process will consist of a meeting with the Course Team to discuss the proposal. Particular focus should be given to the input from external advisers and discussion of their written comments. Additionally it is expected that there will be a detailed discussion and consideration of the College Threshold Criteria for Validation, Level Descriptors and Qualification Descriptors. A report of the validation event will be circulated to Panel Members and the Course Team and will form part of the documentation considered by the Validation Scrutiny Sub-Committee (VSSC). D.5 Streamlined Validation Process The College recognises that in some instances the validation process can be streamlined. This process is reserved for the approval of: a new College minor award; delivery of an approved programme in a location different from that specified at validation; changes totalling up to one third of the credit total of the award; a change to a programme or subject title; approval of existing modules /programme for delivery by FDL; and approval of a new module to be delivered by FDL. The process will be operated by the Faculty, Chaired by an approved College Validation Panel Chair normally drawn from the relevant Faculty Standing Panel. The Streamlined College Validation Committee must be assured that the course or changes can be delivered within the current resource base of the School/Division and Faculty and that any additional resources have been identified within the PDP. The Committee must also assure itself that the course falls within the relevant Academic Regulations and is able to operate or continue to operate at a threshold quality standard or above in comparison to other awards in the College and at the national level. The documentation will undergo an initial scrutiny by the FAO and a scrutineer from the Standing Panel of VC Chairs to ensure that the proposal is fit to proceed to validation. The process is in the form of Streamlined Validation, normally involving written comments from one or two external advisers as appropriate, but without the requirement for the externals to attend to discuss the proposal with the Course Team. The FAO and Panel Chair should seek guidance from the Academic Registrar or APL Officer if any regulatory issues are identified. There will normally be a short meeting between some members of the Course Team and the Validation Committee. Depending on the nature of the proposal and where there are no issues raised by the external subject specialist/s, the Chair may agree to conduct the approval process by correspondence. Proposals to conduct the validation by Chair's Action must be agreed in advance with the Head of QASU and in consultation with the Validation Committee Chair. In exceptional circumstances it may be appropriate to consider changes within the Streamlined category by Chair’s Action with only VC Chair and external adviser inputs but this must be agreed in advance with the Head of QASU. The proposal will be judged against the Threshold Criteria for Validation, Level Descriptors and Qualification Descriptors. Within this context, opportunities to improve further aspects of the proposal in the form of conditions or recommendations attached to the approval exist. The Streamlined Validation Committee has the authority to approve, approve with conditions and/or recommendations or not approve a proposal. Streamlined Validation Inputs Validation Chair normally drawn from the relevant Faculty Standing Panel One internal peer not from proposing Faculty Two external advisers (normally by correspondence) Faculty Administrative Officer (FAO) Streamlined Validation Process This will normally be a face-to-face event using internal peers informed by written comments from external advisers. The event will be shorter than a full validation (usually no longer than 1.5 hours), and the whole subject team is not expected to attend. The changes or proposal will need to demonstrate that the programme will still meet, or exceed, the College Threshold Criteria and (where it is a change to an existing programme) the aims and outcomes of the programme are not changed. A report of the validation event will be circulated to Panel Members and the Course Team and will form part of the documentation considered by the Validation Scrutiny Sub-Committee (VSSC). D.6 Minor Change Process The changes that may be approved through the Minor Change Process are summarised in the table at D7. All minor changes should be submitted for approval on a Minor Change Form 1 (see appendix 5) to the Faculty Academic Standards Committee (FASC) for consideration and approval. The proposed change must be approved by the current external examiner. The external examiner’s approval should be evidenced on Minor Change Form 2 (see appendix 6). The FASC Chair will consider Minor Changes against D7 and a standard checklist (FASC checklist for minor change). In cases where the FASC Chair is a signatory to the proposal, or is otherwise directly involved with it, consideration and approval of the change will be actioned through the Dean as Chair of the Faculty Board. The Faculty Administrative Officer will submit a schedule of all Minor Changes approved by FASC to the Validation Scrutiny Sub-Committee (VSSC) for scrutiny and subsequent reporting to ASC. In the case of approval of single new modules a copy of MCF 1 and 2 and the Module Descriptor Form (MDF) must be submitted to VSCC with the schedule of Minor Changes. Once the Minor Change has been approved definitive documentation must be lodged with the QASU by the Faculty Administrative Officer. The nature of this documentation will be determined by the QASU in consultation with the Faculty Administrative Officer but as a minimum will include the new definitive module descriptor and, where appropriate, the revised Programme Specification. Faculty Administrative Officers should keep track of the cumulative effect of minor changes to ensure that the overall course /programme learning outcomes remain as validated. Details of Minor Changes approved by FASC will be submitted to Faculty Board as a regular item on the board’s agenda. The QASU maintains a central log of all minor changes approved to monitor the frequency of changes to individual modules and cumulative changes to courses/ programmes.
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