2.7 Outcomes of approval meetings

  • 2.7.1 A panel event will result in one of the following three outcomes:

    1. Approval – To recommend approval of the programme/s to the University’s Academic Enhancement and Standards Committee, with or without conditions and/or recommendations. 
    2. Referral – To refer the proposal for further work where there are a number of significant issues to be addressed. This will allow time for the programme development team to consult more widely and further develop the proposal to address the panel’s concerns.  The revised submission should be considered by a re-convened panel. 
    3. Rejection – To reject the proposal because a range of substantive issues affecting several aspects of delivery and assessment need to be addressed. This decision requires the proposal to be re-submitted for development approval from the start of the process as set out in section 2.1.


    2.7.2 Conditions are set where essential action is required to address an issue that has the potential to put academic standards or quality of delivery at risk, or where action is required in order to meet the University’s procedural or regulatory requirements. This action must be carried out before the programme may recruit students. All re-submitted documentation must meet the University’s documentary standards, whether or not any other specific conditions relating to student-facing documents are set. The panel should agree the deadline for meeting any conditions with the chair of the PDT, bearing in mind the recruitment cycle for the programme. Any extensions to the re-submission deadline must be negotiated with the link QAO and ADSE/PLQA.


    2.7.3 Recommendations are more advisory in nature and refer to action that the panel consider would enhance the student learning experience, but where no threat is posed to academic standards or quality of delivery. Action taken in response to recommendations should be recorded in the first annual programme review report following approval. Commendations for innovative practice may be made where the panel considers that the approach being taken by a programme team represents excellent practice in teaching and learning, and is likely to have a particularly positive impact on outcomes for all their students.

    2.7.4 Once approved, a programme of study remains in approval - subject to continuing to meet the requirements of the University’s quality assurance processes, including annual programme review and periodic review - until it is formally closed. However, in circumstances where a panel believes that - although the criteria for programme approval have been met - the proposing team may have limited capacity or resources for continuing to deliver the programme, they may consider defining a period of approval of less than the normal six year periodic review cycle. At the end of the approval period, the programme must be reviewed by another panel to determine whether the panel’s concerns have been addressed and the programme may continue.

    Following the event

    2.7.5 The report of the panel’s discussions and conclusions will be prepared by the panel Secretary, following the format set out in the Approval Report template (T2.11) and in guidance note Guidance on Writing Reports (G2.4). The report should be approved by the panel Chair, agreed as an accurate record by all other panel members; and forwarded to the programme team, to inform the action being taken in response to the conditions and recommendations.

    The Programme Lead should return the revised documentation to the panel Chair and link QAO, via the panel Secretary, together with a completed response to Conditions and Recommendations Form (T2.12), indicating how the issues raised by the panel have been addressed. In some cases, the panel Chair may choose to consult with other panel members to confirm whether or not the conditions have been satisfactorily addressed. 

    The role of AESC

    2.7.6 Once confirmed, the panel report will be scrutinised by the University AESC, in order to:

    • confirm that the report provides evidence that the panel was properly constituted, that the process was properly conducted, and that appropriate conditions have been set by the panel
    • confirm that the report refers to the role of appropriate external reference points in defining academic standards, and to the University’s criteria for approval
    • agree on responses to any recommendations for institutional action that have been made by the panel
    • note any innovative practice that has been identified, and consider how it might be more widely disseminated
    • AESC may also request further information, or action, from panels or Faculties if they identify any areas for concern within the report, or any themes arising across a number of reports.

    The role of Faculty AESC

    2.7.7 The report is also received by the Faculty AESC, in order to enable the committee to monitor the completion of conditions and recommendations, identify any themes arising from approval events across the Faculty, and respond to any matters raised by the panel for action at local level, for example, the appointment of an external examiner.

    Approval for delivery of the programme is not dependent on the programme team’s response to recommendations, but the Faculty AESC may ask programme teams to consider and act upon certain recommendations sooner than the first annual review of the programme if they consider that an early response will benefit students on the programme. Faculty AESCs should also consider any commendations for good practice, for wider dissemination to other PDTs.

    Final sign off

    2.7.8 When the Panel Chair and Associate Dean (Student Experience) are satisfied with the action taken by the PDT and have signed off the response to conditions form, the documentation will be forwarded to the Chair of AESC (the PVC Student Experience) for final approval on behalf of AESC and the Senior Management Team. 

    Following this approval, the link QAO will notify colleagues in the Marketing and Communications teams, Strategic & Business Planning Office, Admissions Office, Student Central, and colleagues in the Faculty. The ‘subject to validation’ tag will be removed from the programme marketing materials and prospectus and the programme will be allocated a UCAS code to enable students to enrol. The Course & Student Administration Team (Student Central) will be provided with a full set of the definitive programme information, in order it can be set up on the course records system, and the programme specification will be published on the APQO website.