Validation of New Courses
The purpose of the validation process for a new course is to ensure:
- equivalence in academic standards with comparable courses across the Higher Education sector;
- compatibility with the existing curriculum portfolio at UEA and the partner institution;
- compliance with any relevant frameworks or subject benchmark statements;
- compliance with the requirement to promote equality of opportunity and diversity particularly in relation to learning, teaching and assessment;
- the provision of a high quality HE experience to students at an appropriate level;
- compliance with internal academic regulations/framework;
- appropriateness of course documentation including handbooks;
- appropriate staffing;
- appropriate resourcing.
The University may make an academic contribution to the design and development of curriculum proposals from an early stage on the request of the partner or if the University deems it appropriate.
1. Proposal of New Courses
An initial proposal for a new course providing basic details of the nature of the proposal should go through agreed internal partner institution planning and consultation procedures prior to being presented to the relevant Joint Board of Study or Joint Committee for approval and permission to proceed to LTC.
In addition the relevant UEA Academic Link should be involved in the process and consulted on the proposal, and relevant colleagues at the University consulted by the Partnerships Office as appropriate. Should any issues be raised, discussions between appropriate colleagues from each institution will take place to resolve these.
2. LTC - Approval in Principle
Once the proposal has received initial approval, for programmes articulating to awards delivered at UEA, LTC will receive a new full course proposal including a programme specification. For courses leading to UEA awards delivered at partner institutions, LTC will receive the initial proposal for a new course, under the Partnerships Office report. This confirmation allows course proposals to be submitted to UCAS for coding and listing in the UCAS Directory and to be included in the partner institution prospectus, and to go forward for validation. All references to the proposed new course, including any information (in whatever form) given to prospective students must make clear that the course is subject to validation.
The Publicity Protocol for publicising all courses validated by UEA can be found in the navigation bar to the left.
Although LTC aims to be as responsive as possible to requests for validation, partner institutions should ensure that an adequate period of notice is given in order to permit sufficient time for the execution of the procedures described above.
The Partnerships Office have devised an example Gantt chart which illustrates an example of timescales associated with a validation event.
4. Internal Validation Event
UEA recommends that an internal event is held by the partner institution to give the course team initial feedback on the completed validation documentation and to ensure that what is presented to the full validation panel is of high a standard as possible.
The internal panel should include the partner institution Head of HE or equivalent and where possible an academic colleague from outside the subject area concerned.
5. Validation Panel
A validation panel comprises members who are able to judge the academic integrity of the course and the national standards expected of the type of award, and who can evaluate the course in terms of its structure and content. A variety of experience and views should be available amongst the panel members. Members will not have had close involvement with the detailed development of the course. Within the panel as a whole there must be sufficient understanding of the subject matter and academic context to enable the panel to make a sound judgement.
Panel membership typically comprises:
- Chair (a senior member of UEA academic staff);
- at least one academic subject expert, external to the University and its partner institutions;
- relevant employer and/or Sector Skills Council representative(s);
- professional, accrediting and/or statutory regulatory body representative(s) as appropriate to the award(s);
- at least one member of the academic staff from UEA (where possible from a cognate discipline area);
- an appropriate senior member of staff of the institution delivering the course, not normally drawn from the course team;
- Partnerships Office representative;
- Student representative;
- Secretary to the Panel from the Partnerships Office
The exact membership of the panel for each event will be subject to approval by the Academic Director of Partnerships. In the absence of any panel members on the day of the event, the decision as to whether the validation event should proceed is at the Chair’s discretion. It may be possible to continue with the event and deal with the contribution of the missing panel member by correspondence.
Panel members should normally meet with students and/or recent graduates from a similar course as part of the validation event and where this is not the case, a rationale should be agreed in advance by the Chair.
The Partnerships Office is responsible for identifying the UEA members of the validation panel. The institution concerned is responsible for nominating all other members of the validation panel, including the external academic, student representative, employer and/or professional body representative. These nominations should be submitted to the Partnerships Office and are subject to approval by the Head of Partnerships.
The course team should normally consist of key members of staff that will be involved in the delivery of the proposed course, normally up to a maximum of eight, and including the UEA Academic Link where appropriate.
Up to two peers from the partner institution may be invited to attend validation events as observers, to facilitate staff development and the sharing of good practice, subject to agreement by the Chair.
6. Duties of the Validation Panel
It is the duty of the validation panel to:
- critically examine the validation documentation and undertake discussion with the course team in order to make a collective judgement as to the quality and academic standard of the course and to ensure that the award conferred by the University of East Anglia is of an equivalent standard to comparable awards;
- agree whether the proposed course(s) should be validated (the panel acts with the delegated authority of LTC).
Guidance notes for validation panel Chairs and validation panel members and secretaries are available and are sent out to all panel members with the validation documentation pre event.
7. Validation Documentation
The validation documentation provides the formal record of the course(s) to be offered to students. The Head of HE or equivalent is required to sign off all documentation before it is submitted to UEA and the panel. For guidance refer to the validation document checklist which details all of the documentation required.
Key documents include a template for all validation documentation, course programme specification, module specifications, staff CVs and course handbooks. Templates and guidance relating to these documents can be found on our Handbooks, Policies and Forms page on the main Partnerships Office website.
8. Validation Event
A validation event normally takes place over a full day depending on the size and nature of the award(s) being validated. The agenda is normally based on a standard agenda which may be modified as appropriate for each validation event. Normally, a meeting with students and a tour of facilities and any specialist resources is included in the event. An example of a typical agenda for a validation event can be used as both a template and reference point.
The course team is not normally present for the panel’s initial discussion and may be introduced at this stage to the event. The course team may give a short presentation or introduction to the course. The agenda will include one or more blocks of time in which the panel may discuss the proposed course in detail with the course team, and in which the course team will have the opportunity to respond to points raised. The Chair is responsible for highlighting positive aspects of the course and raising issues in a constructive but critical manner. The validation panel should conduct its discussions in the spirit of a ‘critical friend’.
After debate, it is usual for the course team to depart to allow the panel members to determine their recommendation to the University’s Learning and Teaching Committee. The Chair normally commences this second private meeting of the panel by summarising the issues and the course team’s responses and s/he will conclude the meeting by agreeing the outcome of the event with the panel before inviting the course team back for verbal feedback. Where the decision of the Panel is not unanimous, the decision of the Chair is final.
During the concluding feedback session, the Chair will announce the outcome of the event and notify the course team of any conditions, requirements and/or recommendations that must be addressed or considered. A deadline will be set (normally 6 weeks after the date of the validation event) by which conditions and/or recommendations must be met and/or responded to, and a decision made by the Chair as to whether the conditions should be met via a conditions meeting or by correspondence. The Chair and Secretary will liaise to ensure that draft conditions and recommendations are circulated to the course team normally within five working days of the event.
There are three possible outcomes from a validation event:
- decision to validate the proposed course, in which case no further action by the course team is required;
- rejection of the proposed course;
- decision to validate the proposed course with conditions and/or requirements and/or recommendations, in which case the course team must provide the Chair with evidence, within agreed timescales, that the conditions and/or requirements have been met, and must respond to any recommendations.
Commendations allow the panel a chance to congratulate the course team on aspects of good practice.
Conditions are those issues that must be addressed to the satisfaction of the validation panel prior to a course’s commencement, by agreed deadlines.
Requirements are those issues on which action will be expected once the course has started, by agreed deadlines, and progress will be monitored through the relevant Joint Board of Study/Joint Committee.
Recommendations are those issues on which action is to be considered, possibly after the course has commenced and are considered by the Joint Board of Study/Joint Committee.
The panel will specify the date by which the conditions and/or requirements must be met and to recommend the period of validation, which for most courses is up to five years.
The validation panel may not set further conditions and/or requirements after it has reported.
10. Course Team’s Response
The course team makes a formal response to the validation report, by the agreed deadlines, evidencing how specific conditions and/or requirements have been met and addressing any recommendations that were made. A report template has been created as a guide through the process, this can also be found on the Handbooks, Policies and Forms page. This response should be reviewed by the Chair of the internal validation event where applicable before it is submitted to the Partnerships Office for consideration and comment and forwarding on to the validation panel Chair for consideration. The Chair may sign off the response from the course team, or alternatively send the response back for further evidence. There is a designated form used for this process.
Responses are monitored by the relevant Joint Board of Study or Joint Committee.
The formal response should include:
- amended documents;
- a brief summary of how each condition and/or requirement has been met with reference to the amended documents;
- how each recommendation has been considered;
- any other appropriate evidence.
Any revisions and amendments to the documentation should be mapped and cross-referenced to the new documentation.
Conditions are signed off by correspondence under Chair’s Action, in consultation with Panel members as necessary.
If the conditions have been met, the Chair will recommend Institutional Approval. If in the Chair’s opinion any condition has not been met or further evidence is required, the Chair will consider the further documentation which will address only the outstanding issues, in consultation with Panel members as necessary. If the conditions are not able to be met, the matter should be referred back to LTC to determine whether to request that the prospective institution undertake further work on the proposal and proceed to a further Institutional Approval or to withdraw altogether.
12. Definitive Course Documentation
Once final approval has been granted, the course team must submit definitive course documentation in an agreed format and incorporating all approved amendments to the original validation documentation to the Partnerships Office.