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Quality Assurance in Higher Education


"An Enhancement-Led Approach to Quality Assurance"

The UNISON Scotland Response

Executive Summary

  • UNISON Scotland is pleased to have the opportunity of commenting on the
  • SHEFC document "An Enhancement Led Approach to Quality Assurance".

  • We welcome the introduction of institutional audits as a means of assuring quality in the delivery of teaching in the Scottish Higher Education Sector .

  • We believe the proposals will ensure robust appraisal of standards and quality, subject to the safeguards of adequate training and development, equal opportunities awareness and any necessary privacy issues

  • However we would wish to ensure that the staffing levels are adequate to carry out the audits, and that staff development and training will be built in to the process.

  • We believe that such audits should involve all staff in institutions and that only a well paid, motivated workforce will be able to deliver the quality required.


UNISON Scotland represents nearly 5000 staff working in both the old and new University sectors. Our membership includes academic, professional, support, computer and manual staffs working in Scottish Higher Education.

UNISON is pleased to have the opportunity to comment on the proposals contained in "An Enhancement Led Approach to Quality Assurance".

In general we welcome the ending of external subject reviews and support the new proposals to introduce internal institutional audits and the introduction of the safeguards contained in the proposals to ensure the highest quality and standards of education.



Internal Quality Assurance Procedures

UNISON supports the proposed procedures for institutional audit set out in the document, and its commitment to quality enhancement. We would, however, wish there to be more emphasis on staff development across all staff groups.

We would wish equal opportunities issues to be included in the internal review processes and any training should also emphasise the need to be aware of different techniques required for groups of different gender or ethnicity.

Training must be provided for those members appointed to the internal review teams, especially the new and inexperienced members.

It would seem sensible to include internal reviews as part of the annual planning strategy, which is submitted to the SHEFC.


The Institutional Audit Process

UNISON supports the proposed process for carrying out the institutional audits. We feel that commentary and recommendations is a preferable method of assessment than graded outcomes.

We agree that a student representative should be included as part of the review teams, but continuity issues would need to be addressed.

Clearly standards must be consistent across all institutions, but enough flexibility must be allowed so that the audit teams can take account of the diversity of each institution.

Public Information on Quality

UNISON supports the proposals contained in the document on relevant information being provided for different stakeholders in the most appropriate way, without making the whole audit process available to everyone.


Student Involvement in Quality Process

UNISON supports the involvement of student representatives in the Quality Process, but would wish to ensure that adequate training was given and that any privacy issues were addressed. We would give qualified support to the introduction of student surveys, but would be concerned, however, if we felt that studies would be used in any way for staff assessments. We believe that a longitudinal study of students and graduates would be a useful tool in assessing career progression.


Quality Enhancement Engagements

The subject groupings and cross-curricular themes appear satisfactory.

For Further Information Please Contact:

Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary



14, West Campbell Street,

Glasgow G2 6RX

Tel 0141-332 0006 Fax 0141 342 2835

e-mail matt.smith@unison.co.uk

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