University College Dublin
Quality Assurance/Quality Improvement
Peer Review Group Report
School of Diagnostic Imaging
Academic Year 2003/2004
Table of Contents
Members of the Review Group
1. The Department
1.1 Location of the Department 4
1.2 Staff 5
1.3 Courses and Programmes 5
2. The Departmental Self-Assessment
2.1 The Co-ordinating Committee 7
2.2 Methodology adopted by the School’s
Co-ordinating Committee 7
3. The Site Visit
3.1 Timetable 9
3.2 Methodology of the Peer Review Group 10
3.3 General Comments 11
4. The Peer Review
4.1 Methodology of the PRG Report 12
4.2 Peer Review Group's View of the Self-assessment
5. Findings of the Peer Review Group
5.1 Departmental Details 13
5.2 Department Planning and Organisation 13
5.3 Taught Programmes 16
5.4 Teaching and Learning 19
5.5 Research and Scholarly Activity 20
5.6 External Relations 21
5.7 Support Services 22
6. Overall Analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities
and Concerns 23
7. Recommendations for Improvement 27
8. Response by the Departmental Co-ordinating Committee
to the Peer Review Group Report 29
Members of the Peer Review Group
NAME AFFILIATION ROLE
Dr Vera Čapková Former Head, Department of Linguistics Chair
University College Dublin
Dr Geraldine O’Neill Head, Centre for Teaching and Learning Rapporteur
University College Dublin
Professor Peter Dervan Head, Department of Pathology Cognate
University College Dublin
Ms Gill Marshall St Martin’s College, Lancaster, UK Extern
Mr Graham Morgan Kingston University, London, UK Extern
1. THE DEPARTMENT
1.1 Location of the Department
The School commented in their Self-assessment Report that the current
premises were created by refurbishment of a derelict Children’s Hospital, with an
ongoing class size of twenty planned. This assumption has long since been
overtaken, not only by student numbers, but also by development of teaching
and learning styles and increased focus on student-centred and problem-based
learning. There are three classrooms, with a layout compromised by the fact the
building was not purpose built, but reasonable AV facilities. These seat 44, 24,
and 20 respectively, and will not accommodate even undergraduate student
numbers after September 2006.
The School is an old building, and although well refurbished, retains elements of
the original heating system. In summer, the classrooms on the southern aspect
are stifling. In winter, the whole upper floor is freezing: temperatures of 11oC and
less have been measured for days at a time in some staff offices. When the
heating is turned up in winter to take the ice off the upper floor, the ground floor
offices become like saunas, and the radiators cannot be turned off. The School
have made countless appeals to St. Vincent's Hospital Works Department to
have this situation remedied, and they have made good efforts, but have been
promising supplementary oil filled radiators for several years that have not yet
materialised: apparently the electrical circuit cannot support the additional load.
There is one more summer and winter in this building before the long awaited
move to Belfield. The School felt it would be a useful achievement of the Quality
Review Process to get a decent working temperature for the year that remains in
Current classrooms are too small, and poorly arranged in terms of the
ergonomics of teaching. The absence of any technical or support services staff
creates many difficulties in maintaining AV facilities.
Undergraduate and postgraduate students make use of an open access
computer facility with eight terminals in the School and can use many more all
over the main University campus. The School terminals are supported on
request by the single Computing Services staff member assigned to St.
Vincent’s Hospital. The number of terminals is insufficient and the support
person is very busy and hence stretched to provide assistance. Current
arrangements for printing and photocopying are student friendly and accessible,
it is important that this is not lost in transition to the new facility. Student social
facilities are limited: there is a common room and small kitchen area.
The clinical demonstration room is archaic, having been transferred from the
previous building. Currently, and since December 2003, the X-ray tube is beyond
economical repair, and hence students have to undertake practical assignments
in hospital X-ray rooms, whenever these latter can be vacated. Evaluation
questionnaires show that staff and students alike consider the current lack of
facilities in the clinical demonstration room as a major hindrance to learning and
research. The high capital cost of X-ray equipment has precluded its
replacement in this educational environment on the desirable regular basis. On-
site annealing and calibration of thermoluminescent dosemeters is possible with
a Toledo 654 dosemeter that was donated by St. Vincent’s Hospital. This
currently is fully functional, but rendered almost useless as a result of the X-ray
HEA capital equipment grants and overseas income have resulted in the
acquisition of two tissue equivalent radiographic phantoms: a whole body Rando
anthropomorphic phantom for dosimetry, and a Pixie phantom for anatomical
reproduction. Such phantoms have been pivotal to the development of our
research activity, and will soon be supplemented by a range of paediatric
phantoms to be purchased under a Health Research Board grant award.
The processing area is reasonable. It houses an automatic X-ray film processor,
a Kodak X-Omat 3000RA. Accessory facilities to support film processing include
a Gevamatic silver recovery unit, a Kodak automatic mixer, a film and chemical
store and manual processing equipment. Appropriate fume ventilation and
disposal systems are in place to ensure high health and safety standards.
Enlargement facilities (AICO enlarger) for 35 mm photography are also in place.
That said, current clinical practice also utilises digital image acquisition and
processing, and lack of such facilities is an obvious deficiency in the current
Resources for hands-on teaching of Computed Radiography, Digital
Radiography, Ultrasound, Computed Tomography, Radionuclide Imaging,
Mammography and Magnetic Resonance are non existent.
The staff complement of posts at January 2004 was nine full-time permanent
and one full-time temporary teaching staff consisting of two Senior Lecturers, six
Lecturers and one Assistant Lecturer. A maternity locum lecturer was
temporarily replacing one of the full-time permanent lecturers. Administrative
staff is made up of one Senior Executive Assistant and one Executive Assistant.
One temporary Research Assistant and one temporary Demonstrator are also
The School currently has no part-time positions, and no technical support staff.
More importantly, there is no Professor of Diagnostic Imaging, leaving the
School the only School in the Faculty of Medicine without a Chair.
1.3 Courses and Programmes
Current programmes include:
BSc (Radiography) – a four-year, professionally accredited Honours degree with
academic and clinical components.
Taught MSc (Diagnostic Imaging or Related Subject) – Five taught modular MSc
programmes are offered in the areas of Ultrasound, Computerised Tomography,
Radionuclide Imaging, Breast Imaging and Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Each
programme has academic and clinical components and develops clinical
competence as well as postgraduate academic enquiry.
Research MSc/PhD - The School has developed the capacity to supervise ten to
fifteen postgraduate research students within a semi-structured environment
where time-frames for research and expectations of supervisors and students
are being synchronised. Currently, there are five MSc and two PhD research
students registered, all of whom are undertaking research relevant to clinical
Diagnostic Imaging departments.
Additionally each year, an active and dynamic Ongoing Education programme is
offered to qualified Radiographers nationally to facilitate their continuing
professional development. Typically comprising six to eight courses, topics are
chosen to represent issues of current clinical interest, and as such the
programme varies year on year. The courses are run on a break even financial
basis, and as occasional, once-off programmes, are essentially outside of
University structures per se.
In collaboration with the Dublin Dental Hospital, Trinity College Dublin, the
School offers a radiography course aimed at producing Dental Nurses / Surgery
Assistants who are competent in a limited number of X-ray examinations. The
annual course spans four months. In addition, staff are involved in teaching
Radiography to Second Year Dentistry students, also in TCD.
Radiation Protection study days are offered annually to non-radiological doctors
and nurses, thus enabling these professionals to conform to legislative
requirements concerning use of medical radiation.
2. THE DEPARTMENTAL SELF-ASSESSMENT
2.1 The Co-ordinating Committee
The School of Diagnostic Imaging has ten academic and two administrative staff.
Staff meetings are held weekly. Within this structure, the School decided at the
start of the QA/QI process to include all of the staff in the Departmental QA/QI Co-
ordinating Committee, since quality issues were discussed at routine staff meetings.
Since Quality Assurance issues became embedded in the fabric of staff meeting
agendas, issues were discussed under the chairmanship of different members of
staff at different times. The full membership was:
1. Kate Matthews Senior Lecturer, Director of School, Course Leader for
BSc degree, Overall Chair for QA/QI
2. Patrick Brennan Senior Lecturer, Director of Postgraduate Research
3. Majella McCaffrey Lecturer, Acting Director of Taught Postgraduate
Courses, Course Leader for Ultrasound
4. Mark McEntee Assistant Lecturer, Recruitment co-ordinator, Web page
editor, Computer Policy co-ordinator
5. Allison McGee Lecturer, Course Leader for Magnetic Resonance
6. Caroline Maguire Lecturer, Protocols/recruitment/open day responsibilities
7. Geraldine O’Connor Lecturer, Co-ordinator First and Second Radiography
8. Desiree O’Leary Lecturer, Erasmus Co-ordinator, Course Leader for
9. Louise Rainford Lecturer, Clinical Co-ordinator, Course co-ordinator for
10. Edel Shortt Lecturer, Course Leader for Computed Tomography
11. Niamh McCarthy Senior Executive Assistant
12. Anne Hegarty Executive Assistant
2.2 Methodology Adopted by the School’s Co-ordinating Committee
Following an initial planning forum the staff of the School of Diagnostic Imaging
agreed the strategic approach to the review. Although quality issues were
discussed at approximately 30 weekly meetings the Quality Review was largely
ignored under pressure of other work. There was only one meeting with the
facilitators in February 2004. Minutes of all meetings were made available in the
Generally, the person who was responsible for a particular field of activity was
also responsible for gathering and assimilating data in that area. Each identified
quality issue was brought to the table for discussion several times.
Since all staff were involved in the quality discussions, communication between
staff was not an issue. Communication with the student member of the committee
was poor. By the time staff attention had focussed on the review, the student was
on an Erasmus exchange. Given the various student comments about
involvement and approachability of staff in the evaluation questionnaires, student
participation needs to be prioritised in the next Quality Review.
Questionnaires from the Quality Assurance (QA) office website were downloaded
and customised to reflect the range and type of activity of the School. Data was
collected from Undergraduate students, Taught Postgraduate students, Research
students, Academic staff, Administrative staff and Service Managers. No recent
course graduates were surveyed, an oversight not noticed until writing up the Self-
assessment Report (SAR).
The guidelines on structure of the Self-assessment Report were followed except:
Inclusion of an extra chapter with a series of quality statements and policies
for all their activities. These were developed during QA/QI discussions as a
series of benchmarks against which to audit future practice;
Each segment of the taught programmes was presented in a distinct chapter,
since the Co-ordinating Committee believed the rationale and approach to
each was quite separate.
3. THE SITE VISIT
Tuesday, 30 March 2004
17.30 PRG meet at Hotel
20.00 Dinner hosted by Registrar and Vice-President for Academic
Wednesday, 31 March 2004
Venue: Staff Conference Room, School of Diagnostic Imaging
09.00-10.00 PRG met
10.00-11.30 PRG met with Co-ordinating Committee
11.30-12.30 PRG met Head of Department
12.30-14.30 Working lunch, PRG only
14.30-16.00 PRG met with academic staff
16.00-16.30 Coffee break
16.30-17.15 PRG met with administrative staff
17.15-18.00 PRG viewed facilities of the Department
19.30 p.m. PRG only, working dinner in hotel
Thursday, 1 April 2004
Venue: Staff Conference Room, School of Diagnostic Imaging
09.30-10.00 PRG met, Lecture Hall, Education and Research Centre, SVUH
10.00-11.00 PRG met with postgraduate students, Lecture Hall, Education and
Research Centre, SVUH
11.00-11.30 Coffee, Lecture Hall, Education and Research Centre, SVUH
11.30-1.00 PRG met with undergraduate students, Lecture Hall, Education
and Research Centre, SVUH [Students brought SU
representatives with them]
13.00-14.30 Working lunch, PRG only
14.30–14.45 PRG met with Research Assistants (two postgraduate students
through research only)
14.45-16.00 PRG available for private individual staff meetings
16.00-16.30 PRG met Dean of Medicine
15.15-18.00 PRG available for private individual staff meetings
19.30 p.m. PRG only, working dinner in hotel
Friday, 2 April 2004
Venue: Staff Conference Room, School of Diagnostic Imaging
09.00-09.30 PRG met with undergraduate student representatives
09.30-09.50 PRG met with employer of graduates
10.00-11.30 PRG available for private individual staff meetings
11.30-13.00 PRG worked on PRG report
13.00-14.30 Working lunch, PRG only
14.30-15.30 PRG worked on PRG report
15.30-16.00 PRG met Head of Department
16.00 –17.00 Presentation by PRG to all Department staff
17.00 PRG and Department reception
3.2 Methodology of the Peer Review Group
Dr Vera Čapková chaired the Peer Review Group for the site visit, which occurred
over a three-day period. The timetable was set between School and the Quality
Assurance Office. There were some changes to the timetable during the course of
the visit. The Dean’s visit was re-scheduled to the second day of the Site Visit due to
organisational issues. One employer (Radiographer) was available to meet with the
reviewers on the final day.
There were two extra pages made available to the reviewers, from the staff, on the
first day of the visit. This was a more focused SWOT analysis, summarised from
issues already mentioned in the SAR. It was completed after the SAR was submitted
and had been composed by three or four staff and shown to all staff in a staff
The first task of the review group (all five members) was to meet with the Co-
ordinating Committee of the self-assessment, which was in this case the full staff
complement. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the process experienced
by the staff in composing the self-assessment.
The staff admitted that they neglected the writing of the SAR at an early stage and
that the process was very rushed at the end. They also acknowledged that they had
not taken advantage of the facilitators. Although preparing for three years, they left
the data collection and report writing very late and this they described was due to
work overload. They did not organise a staff day out, but considered that this might
still be useful. It was evident from the document that a huge amount of work was put
into its composition and collation. Staff commented on the usefulness of the process
in gaining insight into the complete course.
The PRG met the staff as a group later in the first day, to discuss issues related to
the content of the SAR. The results of this are described under the different sections.
In addition the PRG met with the Head of School for an overview of the policies and
strategies in the School. There were some initial clarifications made at this point on
some points that were unclear in the SAR.
3.3 General Comments
The Head of School, the staff and the students of the School were very honest and
open to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the School during the process of
the Site Visit. The QA Review was, in particular, a catalyst for students’ evaluation of
the course. These issues will be developed further in this report. The timetable of the
Site Visit was sufficiently flexible to deal with the changes that were needed as
issues arose on the Site Visit.
Frequently occurring themes:
There were a number of frequently reccurring themes that were highlighted in the
SAR and on the Site Visit and these will be elaborated on in this report, i.e.:
High level of dissatisfaction felt by the undergraduate students with the BSc
High level of commitment of the School staff to the course and the profession
Excessive Staff workloads
Excessive Student Workload
Disorganisation of the undergraduate student timetable
Lack of Communication between undergraduate students and the School
The positive progress made in the research area by staff.
The workload attached to the delivery of Postgraduate Courses/CPD courses
and the Erasmus programme
Lack of Faculty and Institutional Support in some of the School’s activities
The structure and the staff workload in the current Clinical system
Isolation of staff and students from the University
4. THE PEER REVIEW
4.1 Methodology of the Peer Review Group Report
The Peer Review Group (PRG) met every evening of the Site Visit. At these
discussions, it was decided that the Chapters and the focus of the Site Visit
questions could be divided up among the PRG members. However, all members
contributed to all chapters. These were divided as follows:
Dr Vera Čapková: Support Services
Dr Geraldine O’Neill: Composing report and overall description of the Review
Professor Peter Dervan, Department Planning and Organisation, External Relations
Ms Gill Marshall: Research and Scholarly Activity
Mr Graham Morgan: Taught Programmes, Teaching and Learning
Although tasks were delegated among the Peer Review Group, all members had an
opportunity to comment on all areas during the Site Visit. The final report, including
recommendations, is an agreed consensus of the group.
4.2 Peer Review Group's View of the Self-assessment Report (SAR)
The Self-assessment Report was comprehensive and there was evidence of a high
degree of effort put into its composition. The final chapter on the SWOT analysis,
however, was not very focused, it appeared that staff had run out of time to re-focus
on the main priorities emerging from the review. This seemed to be confirmed by the
presentation of an additional summary SWOT analysis on the first day of the visit.
The SAR was very honest in reflecting on the issues that needed change in the
School. Some of the ambitions in the Quality Statements in Chapter 2 of the SAR
appear to add a significant additional workload.
The omissions from the report noted by the PRG pertained to the lack of student
involvement in the process and the lack of some solutions within the control of the
5. THE FINDINGS OF THE PEER REVIEW GROUP
5.1 Departmental Details
The School of Diagnostic Imaging has highly motivated staff and students. Their
graduates are well recognised in the international and national contexts. The School
is the only such School in the Republic of Ireland. The staff members are committed
to the professional development of the practising Radiographers. It is currently a time
of change for the School with the intended move onto the main UCD campus. There
were particular issues, however, such as, student dissatisfaction with the
undergraduate course and issues related to staff workload, research opportunities,
clinical structures. These issues will be discussed in more detail throughout this
5.2 Department Planning and Organisation
The School's mission statement on page 17 of the SAR states that its mission is to
provide clinically relevant programs that are evidence-based, and that contribute to a
high standard of patient care. The entire contents of Chapter two of the SAR,
between pages 16 and 33 are given over to various aspects of the mission
statement. The PRG felt that this Chapter could have contained more specifics,
explaining how goals might be achieved. Overall, the contents were highly
aspirational. However, as the School is moving to its new campus and a new
building, there are great opportunities for restructuring their aims and aspirations, as
they will be sharing a new purpose-built building with the other Schools in the Faculty
of Medicine (Medicine, Physiotherapy, and Nursing and Midwifery).
The PRG recommends that the School set aside at least one full day out for
all staff for strategic planning of the School’s aims and aspirations, as this
was not done as part of the QA process to date.
An important part of the School's vision is to have a Chair within the School. This
would help them to achieve parity with the other Schools in the Faculty of Medicine.
The PRG noted the desire of the staff for research output. At present, staff members
feel frustrated because they have insufficient time to become more actively involved
in meaningful research. This is mainly due to their heavy teaching and
organisational workloads. A number of factors contribute to the excess workloads.
The undergraduate curriculum is massively overloaded with factual content. Direct
contact teaching appears to occupy virtually every hour of every day (for staff and
students). Students appear to have no time for contemplation or independent
learning during the day.
One major contributing factor to the curriculum overload appears to be the content of
courses taught by Departments outside the School. Students, staff and the PRG
believe that many of the topics taught are of little direct relevance to the practising
Radiographer. Students need customised courses that are directly relevant to their
professional education. For logistical reasons, it is usually not possible for outside
Departments to provide such customised courses. This results in Radiography
students having to take the same courses that have been designed for Medical or
The PRG recommends that as part of the new curriculum such customised
courses, relevant to the students’ professional education, be designed. In
addition, certain aspects of the current curriculum might need to be modified
or updated in relation to the rapidly expanding sphere of digital imaging and
digital technology. The PRG also recommends that the School should study
the new curricula that have been introduced to other Schools outside of
Ireland. This would ensure that the School's curriculum was in line with
In terms of human resources, the School has 10 academic staff and two
administrative staff. In general, staff appear to get on well with each other. As
mentioned above, they feel that they are overworked and need additional staff.
Some of them admitted that it would be useful and prudent to re-evaluate their
requirements after the curriculum has been restructured.
The students’ perception of the School's organisational skills varied considerably
between junior and senior students. Junior students, Second Year students in
particular, were highly critical and complained about their lack of trust in procedures
and in some of the staff (see below). They complained that timetables and rotas
were frequently changed without the students having been informed adequately and
in time. Fourth Year students were less critical and stated that the staff were hard-
working and did their best under difficult circumstances. Second Year students
stated that they felt like they were still in Secondary School. Because they were in
such close contact with their lecturers on a daily basis they often did not respond to
questionnaires truthfully. Their perception was that such questionnaires did not have
the anonymity they desired. The PRG felt that many of the problems related to
student trust stemmed from the fact that the students were isolated in one building
(like a Secondary School) and did not enjoy the openness and facilities enjoyed by
students on the main campus.
The PRG recommends a revised anonymous student evaluation system that
is both formative and summative and that is acceptable to the concerns
expressed by the students.
Apart from a drastic reduction in the number of contact hours, many lecturers felt that
a block release procedure for certain topics (in particular, the clinical sessions) would
help with timetabling.
The PRG recommends a review of the clinical placement structure to a more
block release. The hospital sessions in First-Year could be replaced with a
module located in the school.
Organisation - Management structure/committee structure
There are staff meetings every week, except during the summer months. Minutes
are taken. The Director attends whenever possible. One of the lecturers chairs
these meetings and decides on the agenda, with input from the other staff. There is
a high level of goodwill among staff. Staff enjoy considerable academic freedom.
However, some felt that they would benefit by having greater independence. The
Director of the School has also been the Head of the Department, since her
appointment in 1993. She and some of the staff felt that the School would benefit by
having a rotating headship, similar to most other departments throughout the Faculty
and University. In addition, it was made apparent during the Site Visit that there is a
need for University and Faculty support for the wide-ranging demands placed on
Heads of Departments in professional Schools.
The PRG recommends the concept of a rotating headship.
The PRG recommends University/Faculty support for the Head.
Like many other departments, the School is barely surviving on its budget. Its
sources of income are: HEA grants and fee income, postgraduate fees, overseas
student fees, external research funds, and sponsored awards. In addition, it gets a
supplies and travel budget disbursed through the Faculty. The School gets
considerable budgetary management service via the Faculty office budget manager.
The nature of their teaching requires expensive equipment. There is not an
adequate system in place to replace such equipment. There are also problems
replacing computers. The School is examining several possibilities for increasing
their departmental income. There does not appear to be an immediate solution to
their inadequate budget. In general, account sheets provided by the Bursar's Office
are accurate. When discrepancies have occurred, the Senior Executive Assistant
has identified these. The School Director also looks at account summaries.
The PRG recommends that the Budget allocation to the School should be
reviewed with the Faculty.
Department communications with the Faculty
The Director is a member of the Faculty Executive. Many of the staff members are
also members of Faculty and attend Faculty meetings. The PRG did not find any
dissatisfaction with the levels of communication between staff members or within the
Staff communication within the School
There appears to be excellent communication among staff members and between
staff and the Director. Differences of opinion appear to be resolved amicably and
Student communication within the School
There is no active staff-student committee. Such a committee existed in the past,
but has not been active for some time. Student communication with staff is poor.
This was evident on many fronts. For instance, there was no student input into the
Self-assessment Report. A student had been appointed and when he could not
contribute he was not replaced. The PRG met a group of approximately 60 students
from all years (the President of the Student's Union also attended). This meeting
was scheduled to last for one hour. So many students wanted to raise issues related
to their courses and be heard that the meeting lasted 1.5 hours. After this meeting,
many students made immediate contact with individual members of the PRG in order
to ensure that their views were understood. The PRG agreed to meet again with a
representative group on the following morning. This meeting took place for
approximately 45 minutes and there was a continued discussion of the issues raised.
These related to work-overload, poorly organised timetables and lectures, in some
cases, poor and out-of-date teaching, distrust in the staff (some of them), being
treated like children in a Secondary School rather than adults in a University, and a
perception of intimidation and being afraid to voice their true opinions. Assessments
of teachers and teaching were not anonymous nor was marking of all examinations.
The undergraduates felt that promises given by the School were not carried through.
So much so, that they now felt such meetings were no longer useful. The PRG
informed the staff of the students' sentiments. Most staff were genuinely surprised
and greatly disappointed at the level of student anger and distrust.
The PRG recommends that immediate mediation be implemented between the
students and staff. Such was the urgency of this recommendation that the PRG
initiated this process before the PRG Report was submitted to the Quality
Traditionally, Radiography has been a female-orientated discipline. In recent times,
more males have gone into the profession. The School of Diagnostic Imaging has a
reasonable mix of males and females.
Workloads in the School
As mentioned elsewhere, workloads are excessive. The new curriculum will provide
an opportunity to rationalise the amount of work being placed on staff and students.
Some staff expressed that they felt that workloads are not evenly or fairly distributed.
Two new lecturers have been appointed within the past three years. One is on
There are two administrative staff, one Executive assistant and one Senior Executive
Assistant. Both are integrated very well into the overall running of the School and
are highly regarded by staff. They work closely with each other in a highly
satisfactory manner. The administrative and academic staff appear to take good
advantage of the various administrative and teaching courses offered by the
The School has no technical staff. The School staff carry out minor maintenance. It
is anticipated that technical staff will be available to the School, on a share basis,
when they move to the main campus.
5.3 Taught Programmes:
5.3.1 BSc. Radiography
The School offers the only BSc Radiography programme for Diagnostic
Radiographers in Ireland. The level of commitment in delivering this with increasing
student numbers combined with delivery of the other taught programmes and
research expectations, is an issue for staff workloads given the existing academic
and administrative staff levels. Teaching is almost entirely within the Faculty of
Medicine, although some components in the early parts of the course are delivered
by Departments in the Faculty of Science. Clinical experience within the course is
undertaken mainly at St. Vincent’s, the Mater Misericordiae, Beaumont, Tallaght and
St James Hospitals, as well as in other Dublin hospitals. The BSc produces
graduates who are competent practitioners, highly regarded by the clinical
departments. The School has identified that a radical revision of the curriculum is
now necessary (last reviewed in 1993) to ensure that the course meets professional
and educational currency.
The programme contains many subjects that represent the scientific, socio-
psychological and practical elements of health care generally, and Radiography in
particular. The number of subjects offered is identified as a source of stress for
students. However, this segmentation of the course into discrete topic areas will be
resolved under major curriculum review, where it is planned to integrate subject
blocks under a single topic. During the First Year, Science and Health Science
subjects, that underpin understanding of later more applied topics, form the main part
of year one and are mainly shared with Physiotherapy students. While an approach
to inter-professional learning is commendable, this has led to some problems in
terms of appropriate emphasis for the two disciplines. These problems have been
discussed with Anatomy, Physiology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and a
compromise found in each case.
The PRG recommends that under major curriculum review it is ensured that
the shared topics included are relevant, applied to each of the healthcare
professions, are coherent and at an appropriate level and volume within the
Attrition on the course each year is of concern to the School. The reasons have been
analysed and arise from a number of factors including the Radiography profession
not being the first selection by some students. The data provided on attrition may
also be misleading and mismatching since figures indicate numbers of places offered
rather than those who actually register. Other factors include the isolation of the
School from the main University for students and their rather insular experience. This
should be helped by the move to the main campus.
The School has identified that the programme structure is in need of review and that
the number of individual subjects with associated high number of assessments is a
source of additional stress for students.
The PRG recommends that within review of the curricula that there is
integration of subject areas and reduction in the number of assessments in
order to reduce the burden on both the students and staff in their delivery.
Integration between academic and clinical components of the degree is clearly
demonstrated and provided within each weekly timetable. However the model used
is dictated to by the aforementioned ‘service level’ teaching. This arrangement
creates significant workloads on staff in their providing of regular clinical support to
The PRG recommends that consideration is given to the move towards
academic and clinical blocks of weeks in order to assist with retaining
academic and clinical integration and improving staff effectiveness. This may
also facilitate arrangements for students to have longer holiday periods in
which they can find work for financial support. Consideration should also be
given to the idea of hospital staff being more involved in the clinical teaching
and being recognised or rewarded for this contribution.
In 2003-04 the use of Online Classes to administer the undergraduate degree was
piloted in the First Year. This appears to be a positive step in communication
although with regard to timetables, students have indicated conflict with paper
versions and inappropriate sudden timetable changes.
Transferable skills are clearly articulated for each year of the course.
An Erasmus exchange programme for Third Year students to visit an EU country for
a 3-month period provides a valuable experience. This also includes the opportunity
for staff exchanges. However exchange students visiting from the EU have
experienced language and accommodation difficulties.
The PRG recommends that the School should consider the merits in
participating against the work involved in such activities and should seek
assistance in managing these exchanges from the International Office within
5.3.2 Taught Postgraduate Programmes
There are five pathways available across the postgraduate programmes. These are
Computed Tomography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Breast Imaging,
Radionuclide Imaging and Ultrasound. Some of the pathways e.g. Ultrasound, are
available to other healthcare professional such as nurses. Each pathway is modular
and credit rated (including ECTS), and runs from Certificate through to Diploma or
Higher Diploma to MSc. Each programme may be followed on a full or part-time
basis and commence in January each year. The students’ experiences of
postgraduate programmes and External Examiner’s comments are very positive.
Student progression to MSc is limited since it is considered that funding up to
diploma level provides the necessary advanced competencies desired by employing
departments. Undertaking study to MSc level is generally considered to be of more
personal benefit to students. Although the School considers its role is to provide a full
range of programmes, actual student numbers are relatively low to make this viable
and have consequences for staff workloads.
The postgraduate students that were met by the Review Group were very positive of
their experience on the Taught postgraduate students. The students on the
Ultrasound course described how the hospitals were good in supporting the more
technical aspects of the course that contribute to a Higher Diploma but were less
inclined to support the Taught Masters. This level of study was not valued in the
hospital setting. The structure of the course being once a day at times was felt to be
a bit splintered and the idea of a week's block for the course could be investigated.
The students appeared satisfied with the teaching quality of these courses.
Some of the areas that the postgraduate students would like to see addressed were:
a review of the sequence of the practical and theoretical aspect of the
information on access to library and other resources particularly for the PG
the potential for some distance learning (on-line) modules
The PRG recommends that there is a review of the portfolio of postgraduate
courses in the light of workload demands on the staff, for example, with the
potential rationalisation and review of the regularity of running courses.
Potential for collaborative delivery arrangements may also exist. The School
should follow up on some of the issues raised by the postgraduate students
5.3.3 Other Taught Programmes
There is a good range and high quality of continuous professional development
(CPD) activities offered according to needs of clinical practitioners. These appear to
be well received by employers and practitioners. While such initiatives are
commendable there are inevitable consequences for increased staff workloads.
The PRG recommends that the inclusion and range of CPD courses on offer
are considered carefully in advanced planning with a view to clear marketing
and prioritising and consideration of impact on staff workloads.
5.4 Teaching and Learning
The School employs a broad range of learning and teaching methods. Problem-
based learning (PBL) has been introduced into some areas and has received mixed
responses. However, the undergraduate curriculum appears to place considerable
emphasis on contact teaching with little time for providing independent study and
developing autonomous learning and intellectual reflection. Furthermore this
exacerbates staff teaching workloads. Undergraduate perceptions are that the quality
of teaching across the School is highly variable in a few modules. This is in terms of
content, currency and relevance and does not always prepare students adequately
for undertaking the associated assessment. The organisation of timetables is
perceived by undergraduate students to be subject to frequent changes without
adequate and timely communication with students.
The PRG recommends that within curriculum review that there is a
balanced approach to taught delivery and independent learning with
formulation of a clear teaching and learning strategy with reference to the
University Teaching and Learning Policy and advice from the Centre for
Teaching and Learning. Advanced planning and coherence of timetabling
across each of the years of the undergraduate programme and its interface
with postgraduate teaching is recommended to reduce timetable clashes
and ongoing changes. This includes arrangements for clinical placements.
The learning management system, Blackboard, is available to staff and students but
has not yet been well utilised. This opportunity may assist with reducing staff contact
workloads and provide another means of supporting communication between staff
The PRG recommend that School staff undertake training provided by
Early exploration of Peer Review of Teaching has been introduced.
The PRG recommends that this is enhanced to assist with supporting new
and existing tutors with exploring new teaching methods and maintaining
currency and coverage of content for assessment. Furthermore a
mentoring system for new teaching staff would assist with providing the
University expectation for Lecturers in their teaching and research.
Integration between academic and clinical components of the undergraduate
programme is clearly demonstrated and provided within each weekly timetable,
however, the service teaching that contributes significantly to the shared learning of
the programme restricts the model used.
The PRG recommends that while shared learning should be supported the
current format should be reviewed as previously indicated. With curriculum
review a revised structure of academic and clinical blocks in order to
facilitate consolidation of clinical practice and improve efficiencies of staff
and student time/travel, associated with placements could be undertaken.
Consideration could also be given to the establishment of posts of clinically-
based tutors, with honorary University status, from within the clinical
departments to provide permanent on-site student teaching and support.
Issues of consistency of marking across clinical sites has been raised and
are under review by the course team, as is the recent adoption of
anonymous marking that is yet to be rolled out across all years of the
5.5 Research and Scholarly Activity
A commendable amount of research publication (including peer review for
publication), research presentation, collaboration and research funding achieved in
an emerging discipline. Given the relatively recent development of the move to
Higher Education, a good level of staff have achieved their PhD’s or are registered
for them. The School has a research status that exceeds that of most comparable
Schools in the UK, and staff led by their Director of Post Graduate Research have
every reason to be proud of this.
However, there are significant time pressures on staff including lack of protected
research-time or sabbaticals for research. There is some difficulty regarding imbuing
new staff members with a research culture, probably related to their heavy
workloads. Some staff who are keen to further themselves in this way appear
thwarted by their workloads. There appears to be a lack of funding for staff who take
a protracted period of time to achieve their PhD’s (which whilst not ideal may be
appropriate given workloads) and an inadequacy of funding for staff to attend
necessary conferences associated with study at this level.
The PRG recommends that staff workloads be rationalised, methods to
achieve this are mentioned elsewhere in the report.
There is a negative effect on staff morale due to failure of staff who have yet to gain
their PhDs in achieving tenure, which appears to relate to their workloads and the
fact that their professional qualifications have been overlooked within the University.
The PRG recommends that the University consider professional qualifications
for their equivalence to academic qualifications so as not to disadvantage staff
transferring to HE from the hospital sector.
It is refreshing to hear of undergraduates actively engaging with research especially
that that is non-contributory to their degrees, which shows the emphasis placed on
research in the School.
It appears to be difficult for the School to encourage Postgraduate students to carry
onto Master’s and PhD’s, despite the students’ satisfaction with the courses
available. Less than 3% of students on taught programmes proceed to thesis. This is
not uncommon and probably relates to factors outside the immediate influence of the
School e.g. career structure, perceptions in the imaging departments about the
limited value of research. However, there is a lack of courses on research methods
and statistics easily available to non-Dublin based students. This is a problem that
may be compounded by the delivery pattern of such courses. It could be addressed
by the development of a cross-Faculty, distance or e-learning course. As such a
course would seem to have applicability to other Schools in the Faculty:
The PRG recommends that the progression of this may best be dealt with by
setting up a cross-Faculty working group on research and statistical support
and/or dedicated Faculty staff for statistical support.
Whilst postgraduate research students are positive about their experiences, if
numbers were to increase more dedicated postgraduate facilities would be
The PRG recommended earlier that the breadth and frequency of delivery of
the portfolio of taught postgraduate courses should be reviewed to rationalise
them, thus releasing protected staff time for research and hopefully allowing
the instigation of a sabbatical system. It is also believed this would make PG
provision more cost-effective.
According to the Self-assessment Report the staff perceive internal funding for
research to be poor.
The PRG recommends that the Faculty further embrace and support the
School, which has shown huge commitment and innovation in research,
despite lack of funding. Funding of the new equipment on the move to Belfield
campus will enhance research potential and may improve recruitment of
The School have made great efforts to encourage postgraduate students doing
Masters through Research and PhD’s. The students were in general satisfied with
the experience of the supervision in the School. They have opportunity to present to
the staff of the School. The students mentioned the additional costs of receiving
research related courses within UCD, such as Computer courses. In addition there is
a need for ongoing support in the area of Statistics. Research in the School at all
levels would be enhanced by a designated person within the Faculty to support
students particularly with respect to statistics as mentioned in the recommendation
In the School, there is an anomalous situation where there is no Chair of Diagnostic
Imaging, a situation unique within the Faculty.
The PRG recommends the appointment of a Chair should be embraced by the
University to align the School with other departments and enhance research in
5.6 External Relations
The School has relationships within the Faculty of Medicine, within the University,
and outside the University. Many of the school staff are members of the Faculty of
Medicine and the Director of the School sits on the Faculty of Medicine Executive.
They have the same rights as other members of the Faculty and Executive. As
mentioned earlier, the School is dependent on a number of Science and Medical
School departments to provide service teaching. As outlined above, the format of
this teaching needs to be changed and customised to the needs of radiography
students. Outside the University, most of the teaching hospitals in the Dublin area
contribute to the education of Radiography students. There appears to be a
considerable amount of time wasted in travelling to some of the hospitals. This
applies to students and staff.
The PRG recommends that the School re-examine the clinical components
with a view to streamlining the process without loss of academic excellence.
A number of possibilities were discussed during the visit. Block release is
one possibility. Another consideration is the use of clinical Radiographers
and staff within the hospitals to provide some of the teaching. It is possible
that these hospital teachers could have honorary lectureship status. Such a
relationship already exists in the other Schools within the Faculty.
The PRG also recommends that some of the clinical staff should participate
in the curriculum change and that they should be on the curriculum review
board. The School has a relationship with the Irish Institute of
Radiographers. Members of the School staff are also members of the
Institute. However, this organisation does not appear to have a great input
(or possibly any input) into the curriculum.
5.7 Support Services
The academic and administrative staff of the School discussed different aspects of
dealing with the administrative services (Bursar’s Office, Careers Guidance Office,
Examination Office, Fees Office, Funded Research Office, International Office,
Personnel Office, Registrar’s Office). They agreed that these services are generally
good and efficient.
The two areas of major concern are the Computing Services and the Library. The
Co-ordinating Committee asked both the academic staff and the students to give
their opinion concerning access to computers and adequacy of Library resources.
According to the SAR 58% of the undergraduate students complained that there
were too few computers in the School and that seven open-access computers for
undergraduates and postgraduates were inadequate. The main concern is the cost
of Computing Services under the revised resources allocation model. It is pointed out
that the School does not have sufficient resources to pay the bill, which amounts to
€41,650 given that their total travel and supplies budget is approximately €29,000.
As far as the Library services are concerned the student complaints include, lack of
library facilities in the School, the distance from the main University Libraries at
Earlsfort Terrace and at Belfield, and inadequate availability of Radiographic
textbooks and other relevant material. Academic staff expressed concern about the
inadequate subscription to the Radiography journals.
The PRG recommends that the Faculty should ensure that the Library has a
critical mass of textbooks for Radiography students. Resources should be
available for additional Radiography journals. The forthcoming move to the
campus site will help resolve the travel issue.
6. OVERALL ANALYSIS OF STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES, OPPORTUNITIES AND
THREATS /CONCERNS (SWOT ANALYSIS)
The members of the PRG acknowledge that their review has taken place under
delicate circumstances for the School that have come to light through the openness
in the preparation for review and are confident that the outcomes of the process will
serve to enhance the position of both the staff and the students. The PRG also
acknowledges that the School is in a state of transition in anticipation of the move
onto the Belfield campus and plans are in place for curriculum review of the
The following contains the findings of the PRG and identifies the key issues arising
from the outcomes of the review.
The School has dedicated academic and administrative staff who deliver and
organise a wide range of taught programmes related to Radiography and
medical imaging that produce high calibre competent graduates and post-
graduates who are held in high regard by clinical departments and the
It is acknowledged that, in the delivery of the current undergraduate
curriculum and the wide range of postgraduate courses that are offered, the
staff’s academic and clinical work loads are excessive and do not allow for all
staff to engage in professional development and research and scholarly
The Postgraduate students’ experiences of the taught and research
programmes was very positive, but place a demand on staff workload.
In spite of the current School achievements, difficulties have arisen as a
result of the School mainly working in physical isolation from the University
and the Faculty. This has an implication for providing a current University
campus culture to meet staff and student expectations, access to University-
wide resources, student social, recreational and support activities.
The PRG are aware that the undergraduate students are highly dissatisfied
with what appears to be a continuation of more rigid practices associated with
more traditional Schools (parochial Radiography environment), that is
controlling and seem to be unaligned to the current student expectations of
the academic and social aspects of University life.
The School provides opportunity for communication with the undergraduate
students, evident by its mentoring arrangements and module evaluation by
staff. A student staff committee that was in existence has not been in place
recently. The PRG believe that formal feedback communication process with
School is severely lacking and that there is lack of confidence in the process
and conduct relating to anonymity and confidentiality and use of feedback
information. It is noted that anonymity of marking has recently been
introduced in some years. Issues arising from student feedback do not
appear to be acted upon or related back to students adequately.
The School exhibits a strong commitment to a research culture with a
significant level of publications, successful research grants and research
student registrations comparable to international standards in the discipline. A
number of staff have PhDs or are working towards them, although not all staff
are research-active there is a strong desire to participate that is restricted by
the current demands both by the academic and clinical teaching workloads.
Staff appear to be very open and receptive to opportunities afforded by the
changing educational environment. Even with high workloads staff indicate
keenness to take responsibility to develop, progress and implement their
ideas and projects. Staff are eager to develop their career paths and would
welcome experience of managerial and academic responsibility to meet
promotion criteria. However, the current environment identified in the Self-
assessment Report and in the Site Visit show deficiencies in organisation.
This environment also appears to constrain full opportunity to take leadership
roles currently given to other University staff in UCD.
The School employs a broad range of learning and teaching methods and
has introduced problem-based learning into some areas, however the
undergraduate curriculum appears to place considerable emphasis on
contact teaching with little time for providing independent study and
developing autonomous learning and intellectual reflection. Furthermore this
exacerbates staff teaching workloads. Undergraduate perceptions are that
the quality across the School is highly variable and in a few modules, in terms
of content, currency and relevance and do not always prepare students
adequately for undertaking assessment. Organisation of timetables is
perceived by undergraduate students to be subject to frequent changes
without adequate and timely communication with students.
While the School is concerned for the welfare of the student community, the
undergraduate students indicate a lack of trust in terms of empathy and
confidentiality. Support mechanisms appear to be inconsistent with some
students claiming potential bias and personalisation due to their
circumstances. This could be exacerbated by the close working environment.
Integration between academic and clinical components of the undergraduate
programme is clearly demonstrated and provided within each weekly
timetable, however, the service teaching that contributes significantly to the
shared learning of the programme restricts the model used. While shared
learning should be supported the current format should be reviewed as
Below is a more specific list of the SWOT as perceived by the PRG.
Very open and dedicated teaching and administrative staff
Good team effort and very professional outlook on course
Staff feel very supported by each other
Staff research well developed
Rotating staff meetings have worked well
There has been a start of a rationalisation of assessments for most years
Erasmus has been successful but draining on staff
Good range of Postgraduate Courses/CPD/Erasmus, however the range of
these is also threat to workload for staff
High level of student dissatisfaction in many areas (communication,
organisation, lack of an anonymous assessment and student feedback
system, uneven quality of teaching)
Student Workload, particularly in Second Year
Communication between staff and students lack structures that encourage
dialogue and feedback
Student-led Student/Staff Committee was disbanded
The service teaching (Chemistry, Biochemistry, some Physiology, and some
Physics) is very broad and at times not relevant to Radiography
Staff have not provided marking criteria and guidelines answers requested by
All courses do not have second marking
Quality of Teaching in specific areas, particularly in Second Year
Lack of Faculty and Institutional Support in some of the School’s activities
Lack of statistical courses streamlined for both undergraduate and
Lack of computers for some staff and no scanner
Time involved in organisation of accommodation issues for Erasmus students
Revision of basic science subjects taught including for example the breadth
and relevance of subjects such as Physics
Review of Model of clinical structure would help in the service teaching and
Possible rationalisation of Taught Postgraduates for a period of time, but
preference of staff is to rationalise the undergraduate and clinical contact
Higher level involvement of clinical staff in student clinical teaching through
some initiatives such as the creation of Clinical Specialist Positions in
practice - this should help free up academic staff time
Threats / Concerns
Student dissatisfaction with their academic experience is a cause of concern.
This needs to be addressed immediately to prevent damage of staff/student
relationships and to their learning experience
Lack of equipment in the clinical laboratories in the new building
Any delay in the move to the main campus - the current space in the St
Vincent’s building would be inadequate for extra students. In addition, the
environment (for example, temperature in Winter) is becoming more difficult
to work in
Isolation of staff and students from the University support systems at present
Workload extremely heavy for staff who are losing out the tenure and
Staff and students are both under stress due to workloads which affect work-
Managerial workload of Director (permanent) is restricting promotion of
person in this position
Summer clinical practice which ties up student and staff time
Lack of dedicated research time is a barrier to tenure and promotion
Library does not hold adequate amount of texts and journals for students
7. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Throughout this Report the PRG have made some major and some more minor
recommendations. The following is a summary of the main recommendations:
University Level recommendations:
In line with the recommendation for the School to have parity with other
University and Faculty Departments the PRG recommends the
establishment of a Professorial post (Chair) in Radiography/Diagnostic
Imaging and a Rotating Headship. In addition, support systems need to be
put into place to support the administrative demands placed on the Heads of
A review of the current budgetary requirements of the School needs to be
carried out by the University, so that the School’s realistic needs are met,
particularly Library and equipment needs.
The PRG recommends that the School is supported at Faculty and
Institutional level to become fully entrenched as an academic discipline, in
particular, in preparation for the actual physical move to the new Faculty
building on the Belfield campus. In addition, the School should be given
comparable parity and expectations of the other Schools and Departments
in the Faculty.
Faculty Level (in collaboration with the School)
Service teaching should become more focused, flexible and reduced.
Within the curriculum review, the PRG recommends the introduction of a
revised structure of academic and clinical blocks in order to facilitate
consolidation of clinical practice and improve efficiencies of staff and
student time/travel, associated with placements. It is further recommended
that consideration be given to the establishment of the post of clinically
based tutors, with honorary University status, from within the clinical
departments to provide a permanent on-site student teaching and support.
The investigation of a method to gain Faculty/Institutional support for
statistical and research methods expertise, particularly in a distance-
Opportunity to review the School’s staffing levels should be provided,
particularly after the School have made efforts with curriculum reduction
within their own control.
It is recommended that the School commence immediate radical changes to
the undergraduate academic and clinical curriculum in order to improve
teaching and learning quality, reduce and integrate subjects taught, where
feasible, for example
- review and reduction of service teaching
- reduction of the volume of assessment and corresponding marking
- Reconsideration of the contact hours
- Investigation of other curriculum models, for example current UK
- a balanced approach to taught delivery and independent learning
with formulation of a clear teaching and learning strategy with
reference to the University Teaching and Learning Policy and advice
from the Centre for Teaching and Learning
A review of the portfolio of postgraduate/CPD courses should be made in
the light of workload demands on the staff, for example, with the potential
rationalisation of these programmes.
The School should develop solutions to the timetabling disorganisation
issues, and the establishment of a more professional management of this
The PRG recommends the student-staff committee be immediately re-
instated and that an external representative not associated with the School
attend the meetings to assist with objectivity. The minutes of the meetings
should be available to the body of students for discussion and feedback
provided to students.
The PRG recommends that mechanisms are put in place to ensure module
and programme evaluations are arranged and collected in a manner that
preserves anonymity and to monitor changes and improvements. A range of
types of feedback should be sought and the system should be acceptable to
the student population.
The PRG recommends that systems and procedures are devised and
implemented to actively promote the use the University’s Student Advisory
The establishment of anonymous marking across all subjects, where
Since its establishment, the School of Diagnostic Imaging has been the main
instigator of educational changes in the area of Radiography and related areas in
the Republic of Ireland. The School is well recognised nationally and internationally.
The School’s commitment and openness to change and the impending move to the
main campus will help improve the experiences for staff and students alike in the
years ahead. The PRG therefore recommends the swift progress of the School to
the next phase of the Quality Assurance/Quality Improvement process, namely
Quality Improvement which could see the implementation of many of the above
8. Response of the Departmental Co-ordinating Committee
to the Peer Review Group Report
The staff of the School of Diagnostic Imaging entered into the Quality Assurance
exercise with honesty and openness, anticipating that this year, culminating in the
Site Visit, would be an integral part of continuing Quality Improvement in the School.
We thank our Peer Review Group for their commitment and advice during the Site
Visit. Generally, the staff believe that the whole exercise, together with much of the
advice of the Peer Review Group, will lead to improved standards across all of the
Several important issues arose during the whole process, most significantly from
questionnaires returned by undergraduate students in some year groups. These
issues were explored with the students by the Peer Review Group, and are
represented in the Peer Review Group Report. The same issues were also raised by
students through other offices, and hence other processes have been ongoing
simultaneously with the QA exercise. The staff acknowledges the student issues, but
believes their right of reply has not been fully explored, either through UCD
processes in the lead-up to and after the Site Visit, or during discussions with the
Peer Review Group. Staff have borne this situation with fortitude, believing that the
eventual report of the Peer Review Group would recognise the staff perspective. We
find this to be the case in some areas but not in others. We therefore value the
opportunity to respond to the Peer Review Group Report, both generally, and on a
point by point basis.
Over the last ten years the School, via its staff, has achieved astounding progress.
Running concurrently with the establishment of a new Honours degree, the total
student number has nearly tripled, clinical training sites have been expanded
accordingly, taught postgraduate courses have been developed, our research profile
has grown steadily, and we have sustained commitment to CPD delivery. Graduates
of this School enjoy a national and international reputation for excellence.
International external examiners have consistently reviewed our undergraduate and
postgraduate courses favourably. These achievements could not have occurred if the
poor level of organisation and leadership portrayed in undergraduate student
comments, and hence in the Peer Review Group Report, represented a totally
accurate perspective. The staff do not believe that the identified frequently occurring
themes completely reflects the scope and quality of school activity described above
or in the presentation in our Self Assessment Report.
The staff acknowledge that there were issues with which some students were
strongly dissatisfied during the Site Visit. Discussions between staff and students,
both before and since the Site Visit, indicate the situation is not as bad as appears,
nor is the dissatisfaction consistent across all year groups, or indeed across all
students within a year group. In terms of communication, the majority of staff strongly
believe they have always enjoyed open and worthwhile interactions with students,
and have always treated students and student issues with the utmost respect, and in
total confidence. In terms of organisation, the staff believe this is generally good, and
that disorganisation per se is not the root cause of issues identified through the QA
process. Staff are very concerned that a balanced perspective on these issues in
particular is not evident in the Report.
In the aftermath of the Quality Assurance Site Visit, discussions of the issues have
been ongoing. There is an opinion that the QA process, that was entered into
positively, with enthusiasm and commitment, has provoked disenchantment in staff
and students alike. The staff found the time for personal discussion with the PRG
extremely short, and quite imbalanced compared with the time devoted to student
discussions. Staff had limited opportunity to fully address difficult issues. We believe
this is reflected in the Peer Review Group Report, which identifies important negative
student perceptions, but does not place these perceptions against the context of staff
perceptions of the same issues.
In summary, the staff believes that the QA exercise has been a useful and revealing
process. The Peer Review Report presents many concerns with which we fully
agree. Equally, some reported issues do not appear to us to have any substantial
evidence base. However, as part of Quality Improvement we shall seek consensus
as to whether such evidence can be established. We have already started working to
resolve some issues within our own power, and we look forward to continuing this
throughout our Quality Improvement stage.
Specific comments on Peer Review Group Report
p13, section 5.2, paragraph 1
Pages 16-33 (of our SAR) have been reported as highly aspirational and lacking in
specifics. The staff believe that Quality statements should be aspirational, acting as
benchmarks for quality improvement and future audit.
p13, section 5.2, final paragraph
Staff acknowledge the urgent need for curriculum reform and rationalisation. Staff are
disturbed at the statement that many subjects are of little relevance. There are
irrelevant components in some subjects. Totally customised courses are resource
limited, and not in the spirit of interdisciplinarity currently being advocated in Faculty.
The UCD course does provide a comprehensive scientific background to the practice
of Radiography that, with well-considered rationalisation, will provide a relevant
professional education for radiographers in the future.
p14, 1st recommendation
Curriculum design in the School has always considered and been informed by
national and international benchmarks for radiography education. The staff feel that
this recommendation implies such has not been the case.
p14, 3rd recommendation
The School values early student contact with the clinical environment, and students
themselves have consistently viewed this experience positively. Complete removal of
clinical contact in First Year is not globally supported by the staff, and may not be
supported at all by the student body.
p15, 1st and 2nd recommendation
The staff support the concept of a rotating headship. Implementation requires careful
and more detailed consideration than was possible during the Site Visit.
p15, paragraph 4
This section details student concerns and perceptions of the School, its’ staff and
structures, rather than just student communication. The staff side acknowledges that
immediately before and during the Site Visit students voiced many negative
comments. The comments collectively portray a poor impression, and appear here to
reflect the opinion of all students. Clearly there are some serious issues which the
staff have to address. However, during the Quality Assurance surveys, staff received
positive feedback from undergraduates and postgraduates that would balance some
of the comments here.
p17, paragraph 2
In our analysis of attrition, we found no evidence to support that isolation is a factor,
although perhaps students reported some evidence of this to the Peer Review
Group. Since the School is moving to Belfield in 2005, we are confident this issue will
p18, 1st recommendation
The School staff, as well as student participants in Erasmus, perceive huge benefits
in the Erasmus programme. The School takes all available assistance from the
International Office. One particular benefit of Erasmus participation is to monitor our
course against international standards.
p18, section 5.3.2, paragraph 2
The structure of the postgraduate courses is that specific modules are delivered on
specific days, and groups of modules associated with a course are in the same week
(i.e., a block system exists). The staff believe this structure adds flexibility for adult
learners and is consistent with current University policy.
p19, section 5.4, paragraph 1
The staff acknowledge curriculum issues that are a focus of discussion in our current
curriculum development. The reported timetable problems were audited prior to the
Site Visit, indicating changes or cancellations in some lectures, primarily in the
second year of the undergraduate course. The staff have discussed the causes, and
conclude that timetables are generally well - planned and organised, but suffered in
2003-2004 due to unusual staff commitments across undergraduate and
postgraduate course programmes, normal work responsibilities and necessary (for
undergraduate benefit) staff attendance at courses. Normal procedures for notifying
lecture swaps were not consistently adhered to under pressure of work, but have
p19, section 5.4, 3rd recommendation
Staff have successfully used the Online Classes e-learning environment, whilst UCD
was sorting out issues with Blackboard. The majority of staff have attended
Blackboard training and the School has always had a strategy of moving to
Blackboard at a viable time.
p19, section 5.4, 4th recommendation
The peer mentoring system for new staff, which is in place since 2002, is supported
through a comprehensive departmental induction programme, which is run in addition
to that offered by the UCD Centre for Teaching and Learning.
p20, 1st recommendation
The School has been negotiating for clinical support for at least six years. The staff
agree that greater involvement of clinical radiographers in student clinical teaching is
highly desirable. However, we are currently investigating a number of initiatives and
do not believe the recommended action is the only, or the necessarily the best,
p20, section 5.5, 2nd recommendation
The staff value the recommendation that other aspects of our workload be taken into
account in the tenure process, and we recognise this as pivotal to the development of
staff within the university generally. As well as rationalising our own workloads, we
hope that the current review of the tenure system will consider professional
contribution and result in reframing of the tenure process.
p21, 1st recommendation
The staff agree that rationalisation should occur, but that this should be across all
activity, not just postgraduate courses.
The high regard in which our graduates are held both nationally and internationally is
not cited as a strength.
p25 Weaknesses, 7th bullet point
For the past ten years, the School staff have distributed marking criteria for course
work assessments at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. In line with current
international standards, the staff do not perceive guideline answers to be a useful
p25 Weaknesses 8th bullet point
To our knowledge, total second marking is not policy within UCD; however,
moderation of marking across all courses was introduced in the School in January