College given a ‘mixed bill’ of health

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WIGAN and Leigh College has been given a mixed bill of health by students and professionals in its latest higher education review.

A team of inspectors from the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) said the quality of student learning opportunities at the multi-campus provider did not meet UK standards and the approach the college took to boosting the quality of its teaching required improvements.

However, the review also found Wigan and Leigh College met national standards on maintaining academic standards, which means students across the country do not receive different grades for work of the same quality, and also said the information made available to students and the public meets expectations.

Dr Teresa Farran, the college’s vice principal, said: “The college welcomes the feedback provided by QAA and is keen to build on the many areas of good practice highlighted in the review.

“The college recognises that in striving for excellence, there must be continuous improvement of the students’ learning experiences. The issues identified in the report are being addressed and we are already making progress.

“We look forward to engaging further with QAA as we make progress towards reflecting best practice in all aspects of our higher education provision.”

The report found a lack of effective oversight by the college in monitoring work placements and liaising with providers, concluding this [posed a serious risk to the quality of students’ learning experience.

It also found shortcomings in how young people learning at the college were encouraged to fully take part in improving the quality of education, with many courses not having student representatives.

The QAA has now recommended the college ensure students are represented and engaged on academic issues and those chosen reflect the diversity of college-goers and ensure placements are effectively monitored and provide high-quality learning.

The college has also been given the tasks of developing better systems for monitoring teaching quality and staff development, complete a planned review of its higher national diplomas and certificates, and take further systems to monitor good practice and spread it throughout the organisation by January 2015.

However, the QAA reviewers also noted the support and mentoring by personal tutors and the virtual learning environment at the college as examples of good practice.

The inspectors also noted a number of major developments at the college since its last QAA review in 2009, including opening the new professional studies building on Parson’s Walk and changes to the management and committees.