Quality Assurance Handbook

Introduction

Please note all files published are in pdf format. Please contact hyoung@nfts.co.uk if you would like the files in an alternative format.

The National Film and Television School (‘the School’) is committed to the continuous enhancement of the quality of student learning opportunities, and a rigorous and robust approach to the academic standards of its awards.

This handbook has been compiled to provide a clear and comprehensive description of the School’s Quality Assurance systems and should be read in association with:

The School’s MA courses are validated by the Royal College of Art who have overall responsibility for the final approval and periodic review of new MA courses, and confirming the appointment of External Examiners.

Academic Governance

Academic Governance Structure

The School’s Academic Standards Committee is the body responsible for academic standards within the School and it carries out detailed consideration of matters relating to quality assurance and enhancement. The Committee reports regularly to the School’s Board of Governors, and members of the Board attend an Extraordinary meeting of the Academic Standards Committee each year.
Terms of Reference for the committee

The standards of NFTS awards, that is the level of achievement that a student has to demonstrate to be eligible for an award of the School, and the quality of student learning opportunities are assured by the Academic Standards Committee through:

• Approval of new courses
• Arrangements for Professional, Statutory & Regulatory Body Recognition
• Modifications to courses
• Annual Course Evaluation
• External Examining
• Periodic Course Review
• Arrangements for Collaborative Provision
Learning, Teaching and Enhancement Strategy
The School’s Learning, Teaching and Enhancement Strategy supports the School’s Corporate Plan.
The UK Quality Code

The Quality Assurance Agency’s Quality Code is a key reference point for UK higher education, protecting the public and student interest. It is the basis of all quality assurance in the sector. The Quality Code was revised in 2018 and is now known as the revised UK Quality Code for Higher Education (the Code).

For the full UK Quality Code please see the QAA website.

The School’s regulations, policies and procedures have all been designed to take full account of the Expectations of the revised Code.

Student Engagement in Quality Assurance and Enhancement

Formal and informal student participation and engagement is crucial to the quality of the School's teaching and learning. By taking opportunities to be involved with quality processes and providing feedback on their experience, students are not only influencing their own period of study but that of future students.

There are various ways in which students are involved in quality assurance and enhancement. These include providing informal and formal feedback,  and student representation on the Academic Standards Committee (ASC) and the Board of Governors. This enables the School to gain an insight into the student perspective.

The School, in line with the industry it serves, has a philosophy of welcoming feedback. Experience suggests that students are enthusiastic about expressing any concerns about their academic experience to individual tutors, Heads of Department and staff, as well as the School Director and the Registrar. Tutors are encouraged to invite and carefully consider feedback. These informal mechanisms in a School with approximately 500 students provide the bulk of student feedback.

The formal student feedback mechanisms include representations from the Student Union, module evaluation questionnaires and the annual student survey.

The School has a formally constituted independent Student Union led by a sabbatical Student Union President, and who is supported by elected student representatives.   The Student Union President meets with the Registrar and the School’s Director regularly to raise issues on behalf of the student body.

Module evaluation is undertaken by departments, and student feedback  can be gathered either in writing or orally. Feedback from module evaluations are considered by course teams during the year and issues and actions are reported as part of the Annual Course Evaluation (ACE) process.

All students are asked to participate in the School’s internal annual student survey. The survey includes both qualitative and quantitative elements and is administered online. The survey takes places in August/September for those diploma courses that finish at the end of the summer and in December at the end of the academic year for all other diplomas and all MAs. The results of the survey are discussed by the management team, ASC, the Board of Governors and are shared with the Student Union and the RCA (in respect of Masters courses). Course specific survey results are considered as part of the ACE process.

Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning

NFTS recognises that some potential students will not have formal academic qualifications. Accordingly, it has a rigorous system for assessing non-traditional applicants.

In each case, the relevant Head of Department must provide a written recommendation from the selection panel justifying the rationale for accepting the student that is then considered by the School’s Director. A list of applicants offered concessionary places is then sent to the RCA for final ratification. The same internal procedures are followed for the Diploma and Certificate Courses, however the decisions are not notified to the RCA..

Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning Policy

Approval of New Courses

All NFTS courses must meet appropriate academic standards, provide current and coherent curricula and offer a high quality student learning experience.  In order to achieve this all new Masters and postgraduate diploma courses are subject to the School's course approval policy and procedure.

The course approval process encompasses strategic and quality approval of courses, and major modifications to existing courses.

Approval of New Courses

Modifications to Courses
The minor modifications process allows changes to be made to courses and modules, with appropriate consultation, and ensures that a record is made of the changes made. The procedure has been designed to ensure that the academic quality and standards of the School’s awards are maintained, whilst supporting the continuous enhancement of the student learning experience.

Modifications to Courses
Annual Course Evaluation
Annual Course Evaluation is an essential element of the School’s Quality Assurance and Enhancement processes. It allows the NFTS to ensure that the courses it delivers meet the expectations of staff and students, and provides opportunities to develop and enhance our provision.

Annual Course Evaluation
External Examining

External Examiners are an important part of the School’s quality assurance and enhancement procedures. At the end of each final assessment cycle , the External Examiners provide an annual written report on their observations regarding the School’s assessment processes and student assessed work. They provide comments and recommendations upon whether:

the standard set for the award is consistent with that of the national university system and related subject areas the academic standards and student achievements are comparable with similar programmes in other UK higher education institutions the processes to assess student work are sound and have been fairly conducted

In addition, they:

• are involved and influential in the overall decision making process of the Final Exam Board and endorse the decisions made by the Board

• identify examples of good practice and innovation

• provide recommendation on opportunities to enhance the quality of learning opportunities provided.

External Examining
Periodic Course Review
The NFTS conducts a rolling 6 year programme of Periodic Reviews to monitor the quality of teaching and learning within its academic departments. Periodic course reviews allow the School to make sure that its departments are fulfilling their requirements in maintaining academic standards and teaching quality. They are also a central means by which the School satisfies the requirement of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) that an institution must review the ongoing validity of its courses of study. The Review process is intended to be a developmental activity; highlighting areas of good practice and identifying any aspects of provision that may benefit from greater cohesion.

Periodic Course Review
Course Closure or Suspension

The School regularly reviews and updates its course portfolio to ensure currency and to reflect best practice, taking account of student and external views. In exceptional circumstances, a course may cease to exist or the School may no longer be able to teach a course or an aspect of a course to a specific group of students, or the School may introduce a substantial change which will impact on applicants and/or current students.

There are a number of reasons why the School might close or suspend recruitment to a course, or make substantial changes. These may include but are not limited to the following:

• demand for the course is too small to cover the cost of delivery (i.e. insufficient applicants)

• outcome from the periodic review or course (re)-approval process

• staff involved in the delivery of the course are temporarily/permanently unavailable and it is impossible to substitute them

• replacing an existing course with a new one

• changing strategic priorities at subject, or School level

• closure/termination of collaborative partnership which results in the withdrawal of a course

Course closure, suspension or substantial change would normally be initiated for the following academic year unless there are circumstances beyond the School’s control. In the event of closure or suspension, no new applicants would be recruited. Students already on the course would be supported to complete their course successfully or if this was not possible due to circumstances beyond the control of the School, transitional arrangements would be made in consultation with the student(s) affected. 

The School will endeavour to mitigate the impact that course closure, suspension or substantial change will have on current and prospective students. In the event of course closure, a planned timeline and action plan for managing the closure and for communicating with applicants and current students must be drawn up by the department in liaison with the Quality Assurance Manager. The action plan must explicitly consider the experience of current and prospective students to protect against any adverse impact a course closure may have.

At all times the School will be mindful of its consumer law obligations to students and applicants, and of the School’s Terms and Conditions.
Arrangements for Collaborative Provision
Some NFTS courses offer students the opportunity to undertake work placements or work experience with external companies and organisiations. The work placement policy  aims to promote good practice and ensure that the School meets its responsibilities with regard to managing the quality of the student learning experience as well as their safety and wellbeing in the context of placement or work-based learning as part of a course of study

Arrangements for Collaborative Provision
Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies

Most of the School’s Master’s and professional diploma courses are accredited by ScreenSkills, an industry-led skills charity for the screen industries. ScreenSkills leads the UK Creative industries’ skills and talent drive, improving productivity, innovation and competitiveness to achieve a world-leading UK screen sector. It works with further and higher education courses that supply talent to the screen industries.

ScreenSkills’ course accreditation scheme is devised in consultation with industry and education and recognises courses within the UK that provide exceptional standards of industry relevant training. Each accredited course undergoes a rigorous assessment by industry professionals in order to be awarded the ScreenSkills Tick - a quality mark indicating the courses best suited to prepare new entrants for a career in the Creative industries and providing the most up-to-date and relevant industry training and education.

Endorsement by ScreenSkills indicates that our courses have a particular focus on graduate employment rates; high standards of student work; a focus on the professional preparation of students including teamwork, soft skills and business skills; relationships with employers, and an industry focus.

The School’s courses were recently re-accredited by ScreenSkills in October 2019, with Games Design due to be re-accredited in 2021.

Any queries about the contents of this Handbook, or about any of the quality assurance processes, should be addressed to the Quality Assurance Manager HYoung@nfts.co.uk

 

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