Quality Assurance Handbook
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Section 2 - Governance & Structures for WMC
Section 3 - Documented Approach to QA
Section 4 - Programmes of Education & Training
Section 5 - Staff Recruitment, Management
Section 6 - Teaching and Learning
Section 7 - Assessment of Learners
Section 8 - Support for Learners
Section 9 - Information & Data Management
Section 10 - Public Information & Communication
Section 11 - Other Parties Involved in Education & Training
Programmes of Education and Training
4.1 Programme Development and Approval Policy
Western Management Centre (WMC) applies thorough processes for the development and validation of programmes of study outlined in this document. These processes will enable dialogue with internal and external stakeholders and the appraisal of new programmes by the Academic Council, Board of Directors, and other relevant governance representatives.
4.1.2 Policy Statement
The adoption and implementation of a systematic approach to programme development and evaluation will ensure that programmes of study at WMC align with policies and criteria relevant to programme validation as outlined by QQI. These include:
- WMC strategic and resource planning
- WMC quality assurance policies and procedures
- WMC monitoring and self-evaluation processes
- Learner and stakeholder feedback
WMC adopts all policies and procedures as outlined within this policy document. The WMC validation process will be evidence-based. To support this, all stakeholder input will be documented (for example, through meeting minutes, surveys, and meetings and consultation with stakeholders).
All proposed programmes submitted for validation will be developed in line with the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) and in adherence with the validation and criteria for the awards specified. All proposed programmes will provide a clear rationale for programme development that will subsequently be stated through the appropriate wording of learning outcomes.
Validation submissions will be subject to ratification by the Academic Council which is directly responsible for the oversight and approval of submissions based on educational quality and relevance. The Board of Directors will be responsible for the consideration of all applications in direct relation to the Centre’s overall strategy and resourcing and also consider the recommendation of the Academic Council. As a result, the final responsibility for applications for programme validation lies with the Board of Directors.
4.1.3 Responsibility of
This policy is the responsibility of the Registrar.
4.1.4 Processes and Procedures
At WMC, the development and validation of QQI programmes of study will proceed through six key stages (see Figure 5).
Figure 5 – Stages of Programme Development and Validation
Stage 1: Programme Identification
WMC maintains strong peer relationships with the broader education and training community and formal links with key industry stakeholders. Through engagement with external stakeholders, WMC keeps up-to-date with changing industry and labour force requirements. External stakeholders include IBEC, West Regional Skills Forum, local Chambers of Commerce and Western Development Commission. This provides the Centre with the opportunity to identify knowledge and skills gaps which can be addressed through programme development. In addition, the ongoing research, monitoring and review of current programmes combined with feedback from learners and staff provides insights into potential new opportunities within the area of programme development.
WMC will analyse, through research, the need for all proposed programmes to confirm that:
- A gap exists between present and desired conditions
- A significant and measurable need exists for the proposed programme
- The proposed programme is the correct response to meet the training need identified
Programme needs analysis will be informed by input from:
- Discussions with education and training partners (e.g. Employers and Industry Advisory Boards)
- Analysis of legislation, policy, and statutory requirements
- Feedback (Learner, Tutor, Programme Manager, and Stakeholder)
- Input from the Board of Directors and Academic Council
- Insights gained through conferences, networking events, and relevant publications
Information from the needs analysis phase will be documented and subsequently applied to inform programme development. This will include the creation of performance objectives and indicative content to ensure proposed programmes meet the needs of target learning audiences.
Stage 2: Authorisation for Programme Development – Internal
The approval process will be scheduled within an adequate timeframe for the implementation of associated development, validation, and marketing activities.
All proposals for new programme development will be developed in direct adherence to internal and external requirements. The Registrar and Programme Manager will document details of proposed programmes using the Centre’s PID system. Completed proposals will be forwarded to the Operations Committee who will review all proposals for new programme development. The Committee will forward a recommendation to the Board of Directors following a review of proposals.
The Board of Directors will determine whether the proposed programme of study will proceed. This decision will be based on the following:
- Suitability of the proposed programme as the correct measure to meet identified training needs
- Implications of providing the proposed programme in line with Centre strategic and resource planning
- Contribution the proposed programme can make to labour market needs
- Industry, employer, learner, statutory, and regulatory body support for the proposed programme
- Accreditation body requirements
Stage 3: Programme Development
Where programme proposals receive approval, a Programme Development Team will be convened under the guidance of the Registrar. The Programme Development Team will be responsible for the development of a programme proposal, project plan for proposal development, and all documentation. The appointed Team will outline the:
- Programme award standard and details
- Rationale supporting the development of the proposed programme
- Intended programme structure and content
- Aims, objectives, and draft Minimum Intended Programme Learning Outcomes (MIPLOs)
- Expected demand for the programme
- Arrangements for learner access, transfer, and progression
- Alignment of the programme with the strategic vision of WMC (WMC plans to publish its 5 -year strategic plan for 2021-2025 in Q2, 2021)
Upon completion, an Academic Council meeting will be convened to review the programme proposal.
Where the Academic Council will approve a proposed programme reviewed against the QQI Core Validation Criteria, their recommendation and report is forwarded by consideration to the Board of Directors who approve the final submission.
Stage 4: QQI Submission Development
Where the Board of Directors approve programme proposals (based on academic merit as recommended by Academic Council and commercial merit), the selected Programme Development Team will work with the Programme Manager to develop programme content. Content development will be guided by the programme proposal, needs analysis, and stakeholder input in adherence with QQI Core Validation Criteria.
The Programme Manager will be responsible for the coordination of the Programme Development Team meetings. The Programme Development Team will outline the:
- Objective of the Programme
- Target Market(s)
- Minimum Intended Module Learning Outcomes (MIMLOs)
- Minimum Intended Programme Learning Outcomes (MIPLOs)
- Curriculum and Content
- Assessment Strategy
- Mode of Programme Delivery
In addition, the Programme Manager will coordinate with the Registrar to populate the relevant QQI programme validation documentation.
The Programme Manager will be responsible for ensuring that the final submission preparation to QQI will summarise how proposed programmes meet QQI Core Validation Criteria as outlined in the QQI Policies and Criteria for the Validation of Programmes of Education and Training document. This will include the following details:
- The Centre is eligible to apply for validation of the programme
- The programme objectives and outcomes are clear and consistent with the QQI awards sought
- The programme concept, implementation strategy, and its interpretation of QQI awards standards are well informed and soundly biased (considering social, cultural, educational, professional, and employment objectives)
- The programme’s access, transfer, and progression arrangements are sufficient
- The programme’s written curriculum is well-structured and fit-for-purpose
- There are sufficient qualified and capable programme staff available to implement the programme as planned. If not, a plan detailing how the requisite skillsets will be sourced will be identified
- There are sufficient physical resources to implement the programme as planned. If not, a plan to detail how the requisite resources will be sourced will be identified
- The learning environment is consistent with the needs of the programme’s learners
- There are sound teaching and learning strategies
- There are sound assessment strategies
- Learners enrolled on the programme are well informed, guided, and cared for
- The programme is well-managed
Stage 5: Programme Evaluation
WMC will access and create an ad-hoc panel as required, drawing on the internal expert resources available within the Centre’s associated sister companies. This will facilitate swift and agile internal evaluation and review of programme validation documentation. This internal QA desk review will evaluate the programme against the relevant QQI validation policies and criteria. Where amendments are recommended, the Registrar will meet with the Programme Manager to discuss recommendations and apply amendments. A report of the internal review findings and the associated validation documentation will be submitted to the Academic Council for final review and approval (prior to submission to QQI).
Following approval from the Academic Council, the Registrar will be responsible for liaising with QQI representatives to facilitate a QQI External panel visit.
The Registrar will submit the finalised programme validation documentation, supporting documentation, and validation fee to QQI.
The Registrar will liaise with QQI to schedule an External Panel review and will host the panel onsite (or virtual meeting).
Following the visit, the External Panel will issue the QQI Draft Expert Panel Report, the Registrar will facilitate the validation process by:
- Corresponding with QQI in relation to the findings of the QQI Draft Expert Panel Report
- Submitting requested modified documentation and plans to address pre-validation conditions and recommendations (where applicable)
The QQI Expert Panel will provide a statement detailing any final recommendations relevant to a validation to QQI. QQI will correspond with WMC to indicate one of the following outcomes:
- The proposed programme will be validated outright
- The proposed programme, or stand-alone segment that constitutes a programme, will be validated subject to outlined conditions (including special conditions)
- The proposed programme will be refused validation
Stage 6: Programme Authorisation
Where applications for validation are successful, WMC will be issued with a QQI Certificate of Validation and the Approved Programme Schedule. The Registrar will communicate findings and outcomes of the QQI validation process to the Board of Directors and Academic Council.
While proposed programmes can be marketed prior to validation they will be noted as subject to validation. The Registrar will liaise with the Marketing Manager upon receipt of validation documentation to amend/update WMC website information to reflect the status of the programme as validated.
All relevant validation documentation will be maintained by the Registrar. All validated programmes will be subject to continued monitoring and periodic review.
4.2 Access, Transfer, and Progression Policy
This policy outlines how the access, transfer, and progression opportunities and practices at Western Management Centre (WMC) meet learners’ needs within the context of programme provision. This document outlines the pathways for learners to enter, transfer between, and/or progress from programmes of education and training where possible within the scope of functions within the Centre.
4.2.2 Policy Statement
The implementation of access, transfer, and progression will be monitored regularly at WMC through QA review processes. Retention, progression, and achievement statistics will be monitored on an ongoing basis by both the Programme Manager and the Registrar. The information and data gathered will be used to inform decision-making and planning in relation to programme development, staffing, assessment management, and centre resourcing.
Access refers to the process by which learners may start a programme of education and training having received recognition for knowledge, skill, or competence required. Transfer refers to the process by which learners may transfer from one programme of education and training to another having received recognition for knowledge, skill, and competence acquired. Progression refers to the process by which learners may transfer from one programme of education and training to another programme with the latter being placed at a higher level on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).
4.2.3 Responsibility of
This policy is the responsibility of the Programme Manager.
4.2.4 Processes and Procedures
WMC provides current and future learners with clear and accurate information relating to the QQI accredited programmes delivered as part of the Centre’s offerings. The provision of clear information facilitates learners in identifying pathways to, from, and within programmes of study and provides learners with information about awards and qualifications that may be achieved.
Transparency of communication with stakeholders is achieved through the use of the WMC website (available at: https://wmcgalway.com/ ). WMC publishes programme information using the WMC website. Information is also available to stakeholders/potential learners who contact WMC directly.
The Programme Manager and Registrar coordinate the enquiries and admissions processes for learners at WMC. The Programme Manager provides information to the public via phone, email, and face-to-face queries. Learners can also enrol on programmes of study using the online booking system provided on the WMC website.
The WMC website provides information about awards and qualifications and provides information for learners to identify learning and progression pathways. Information includes details of the following:
- Programmes offered to learners at WMC
- Whether or not a programme leads to an award
- Relevant awarding body for programmes of learning
- Award title for each available programme of learning
- Award type, credits attached, and NFQ level
- Assessment information
- Refund policy
- Terms and Conditions
Access to Programmes of Study
All learners who wish to enrol on a programme of study at WMC must satisfy the relevant minimum entry requirements for the programme. Details of programme specific minimum requirements are available on the WMC website.
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
As the QQI programmes currently delivered by WMC are classified as Minor Awards and are a maximum of five days in duration, it is not practical to facilitate an RPL policy in a transparent manner. Should the Centre decide to progress to delivering Major Awards, it would plan to implement such a policy.
Feedback from recent graduates on the programmes indicates that there is a benefit to the learner in attending the programme in its entirety.
All new learners who undertake a programme of study at WMC will receive an induction to WMC and their selected programme of study (for more information, see Section 8.1, Learner Induction Policy). WMC recognises that induction is an essential process for learners starting a programme of education and/or training.
The WMC induction process is designed to ease learners’ transition to studying at WMC, and to get a more precise understanding of the relevant programme of study and structure of the study programme.
The induction process provides sufficient information on the Centre’s academic policies and procedures, and information on learner and staff rights and responsibilities.
Induction also provides learners with information on the Common Awards System (CAS) and its relationship to the development of QQI awards, consistent with the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). Where learners have further questions regarding awards, they are invited to meet with the Programme Manager. The induction process also notifies learners of the supports available at the Centre.
WMC offers a range of QQI Minor Awards to a range of potential learners. The Centre has found that the requirement to transfer from one award to another is negligible and it therefore does not implement a Transfer policy. As the Centre plans to further develop its QQI portfolio in the coming five years, it recognises the requirement for an approved transfer mechanism may arise. The Centre will work to align its policies and procedures to QQI specifications in this regard.
The majority of QQI programmes available at WMC are designed to facilitate learners to progress on to other programmes where the relevant component is a mandatory or an elective requirement. Successful completion of the component awards offered by the Centre enable learners to transfer to programmes leading to other certificates where this component is a mandatory or an elective requirement, for example a QQI Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Business Studies. This is a Major Award. The Centre recognises the value of lifelong learning for all learners.
Where learners require advice on selecting further programmes that will help plan their academic or career path, the Programme Manager will provide advice on progression routes available to learners from their programme of study.
WMC maintains strong peer relationships with employers within its training sectors providing opportunities for the discussion of current issues and emerging trends. These practices enable WMC to provide general guidance on employment trends and skill requirements to learners.
In addition, WMC maintains records of learner achievement and certification. To facilitate progression, learners can request information that may be required by other institutions.
4.3 Programme Monitoring and Review Policy
This document outlines the Western Management Centre (WMC) framework for programme enhancement and adaption based on findings of annual review and monitoring processes.
4.3.2 Policy Statement
Validated programmes at WMC do not remain static entities following their validation and approval from QQI. All validated programmes will be subject to annual monitoring and review. Using insights gathered and analysed from monitoring and review processes, WMC will, where necessary, identify possible enhancements and adaptations to programmes based on the findings of its annual monitoring and review processes.
Ongoing monitoring of programmes, essential to ensure academic quality and standards are maintained, is informed by ongoing review of learner and tutor feedback and other data gathered through review and monitoring processes.
4.3.3 Responsibility of
This policy is the responsibility of the Registrar.
4.3.4 Processes and Procedures
Guided by the QQI Statutory Quality Assurance Guidelines, programme monitoring, and review enables WMC to evaluate programmes to:
- Ensure that programmes remain appropriate, and create a supportive and effective learning environment
- Ensure that programmes achieve the objectives set and respond to the needs of learners and the changing needs of society
- Review the learner workload
- Review learner progression and completion rates and where issues exist, decide on what action may be required.
- Review the effectiveness of procedures for the assessment of learners
- Inform updates of programme content, delivery modes, teaching and learning methods, learning supports and resources, and information provided to learners
- Update third party, industry, or other stakeholders relevant to the programme(s)
- Review programme specific QA arrangements
While the outcomes of programme review and monitoring may result in the decision to make necessary enhancements and adaptations to programmes, WMC will adhere to limits of what can be changed. Limits to programme amendments will be in direct relation to the scope of WMC’s QA procedures (as approved by QQI).
Examples of changes which may be applied to validated programmes include (but are not limited to):
- Minor changes to programme content – without altering the module or programme learning outcomes and programme schedule as outlined in the programme’s Certificate of Validation documentation
- Changes to assessment methods based on feedback indicating current assessment methods were not meeting the objectives of the initial approved submission– without altering the QQI approved programme schedule, learning outcomes, and assessment strategy
Where changes to programme content are determined as necessary, this will be undertaken by tutors working with the Programme Manager. All programme updates will be documented, and records will be stored by the Registrar.
The Programme Manager will provide tutors with assistance as how to the programme changes and updates can be applied to the relevant academic content on the programme, prior to any content being updated.
Extensive Programme Changes
Where programme amendments are extensive to the point that they may require consideration for the development of a new programme, any potential new programme will be subject to WMC programme development and approval processes in adherence with established QQI validation policies and criteria.
Examples of ‘extensive changes’ will be guided by those outlined in the QQI ‘Polices and Criteria for the Validation of Programmes of Education and Training’ document. This specifically refers to changes that:
- Undermine anything that was essential to support the original validation decisions
- Eliminate any core intended programme learning outcomes
- Change the pre-requisite learning requirements for a given programme
What constitutes an ‘extensive change’ to programmes will be informed by an independent expert or subject matter expert (SME).
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