Since 2012 Oxford Business College has undergone oversight by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA).
In 2016 Oxford Business College went through a Quality Assurance Review for Educational Oversight with the report issued in July 2016 available here.
The corresponding action plan is as below:qaa-action-plan-september-2016-final-version
The action plan above should be read in the light of the key findings of the July 2016 QAA report, which are as follows:
- The maintenance of the academic standards of awards meets UK expectations.
- The quality of student learning opportunities meets UK expectations.
- The quality of the information about learning opportunities meets UK expectations.
- The enhancement of student learning opportunities meets UK expectations.
These judgements were supplemented by the examples of Good Practice detailed below, as well as the Recommendations and Affirmations listed in the first column of the plan:
- The clear and supportive admissions processes which prepare students for an effective learning experience (Expectation B2).
- The effective sharing of best practice including positive use of observation which facilitates the team ethos among staff (Expectation B3).
- The positive, enthusiastic and consistent approach to the implementation and use of digital technology, which enhances student learning opportunities (Expectation B3).
- The effective partnership between the College and its students which enables them to fully develop their academic, personal and professional potential (Expectation B5).
From the beginning of the preparation of the Action Plan, the student voice has been an integral source of input to the actions and success indicators, as well as to this commentary.
As regards ensuring that Pearson’s requirements relating to programme specifications and Examination Boards are met, the students’ view was that they already felt that they had more opportunities to contribute to programme design and, particularly delivery. “As indicated in our SED submission, we students, think that the assignments are set to ensure we achieve the required learning outcomes and assessment criteria which are fair and easy to understand. We also feel we have more of an opportunity to influence delivery of individual modules e.g. inclusion of team exercises with role-play and individual presentations incorporated in some modules etc.
We are already aware of how the new BTEC programmes will take shape and we will be involved and have a chance to give opinions first-hand to tutors and other academic staff as regards structure and delivery of modules.”
The actions outlined above will no doubt strengthen the adherence of OBC programmes to Pearson requirements and will in large part be the responsibility of senior academic staff. Furthermore, the introduction of revised BTEC modules will give us the opportunity to implement and monitor the success of these actions.
In relation to articulation of OBC’s strategic approach to Enhancement, OBC is pleased that, as assessed by QAA in reports since 2012, the enhancement of student learning opportunities at the college meets UK expectations. Nonetheless, it is also of benefit to be able to effectively communicate how this enhancement is achieved.
OBC sees enhancement as a commitment to ongoing improvement of learning opportunities for its learners in line with this key phrase from the college’s Mission Statement: “To provide each individual learner with the most positive learning experience”. Strategically, the policy could be described as a “Goals down, plans up” approach in that, given the overall aim of continuous improvement of learning opportunities, individual departments, committees and staff members can initiate plans, and respond to suggestions (ie take a proactive as well as a reactive stance) that will potentially contribute to enhancement. For example, the IT Committee may review use of technological support systems at the college to eliminate any areas of dissatisfaction or may propose and implement improvements in rapid access to learning materials. Clearly, such a far-reaching theme as enhancement can be similarly addressed in a very wide range of college activities and procedures.
Enhancement is maintained as a “live issue” at OBC partly by being included as an ongoing agenda topic at relevant stakeholder meetings. “As we (students) said in the SED submission, we are involved in meetings where we contribute to, as well as are informed about, the different aspects of college life which impact on the enhancement of learning opportunities. Student Council is also circulated with Minutes etc. which is helpful. So as far as a clear account of what OBC’s strategic approach is (rather than what then happens as a result) it might be helpful to use the same meetings and documents to be clear about Strategic policy”.
As far as formalisation of staff development is concerned, OBC is committed to building on the up-to-date industry experience with which our tutors enhance their teaching. Under this topic, our students said things like “As students, we feel motivated to be taught by tutors who have had first-hand Business experience. It gives us an opportunity to relate to real life various business cases both positives and negatives examples of the managing aspect of business.” Students who sat in on Tutor and Management meetings appreciated that their contribution of ideas and feedback on, for example, Student Questionnaires on each module taught, were listened to and acted upon by tutors. All students liked the idea that their opinions and suggestions were valued in terms of teaching practice.
OBC has been commended in the past by its accreditation body for exemplary mentoring of new staff; the actions listed above should consolidate such successful examples of staff development.
OBC is pleased that its efforts to date in relation to conversion and retention were acknowledged in the July QAA report. In particular, the dedicated Committee established in 2014 to address these issues will continue to play an important role in further progress. The group allows the voice of all stakeholders to be heard. Here is a related comment from the student team involved in this Action Plan / commentary:
“Through a questionnaire that was conducted by a student, the student body was able to find the gap and commend the tutors. The conclusion of the questionnaire was that although the tutors were providing sufficient support during the course of their modules, it outlined the importance of the student’s ability to motivate themselves to complete tasks in due time, express their liking of group presentations etc…”
In respect of increased oversight of OBC’s academic programmes, a revised Senior Management structure is already in place (although it will continue to evolve), and this will facilitate the monitoring of our programmes. The recent inclusion of a student as member of the Senior Management Team (Strategic), as well as continued student involvement in most college committees, will ensure decisions incorporate the views of the student cohort.`
Although a total of four instances of good practice were identified in the QAA July report, both students and staff agree that the most noteworthy of all is the one that highlights “The effective partnership between the College and its students which enables them to fully develop their academic, personal and professional potential”. As far as the college ethos is concerned and its Mission to “provide each individual learner with the most positive learning experience”, this acknowledgment of an effective partnership confirms that we continue to approach this goal. It also complements the summary of our efforts from one of the students who was helping to prepare this commentary: “From Induction onwards, we’re aware how much individual attention is important to OBC and that they always welcome feedback and want to improve our experience.”