Quality Assurance Document - Irish Academy Of Public Relations UK

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Quality Assurance Procedures

These Quality Assurance Procedures reflect the criteria agreed with HETAC, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, for the Academy’s post-graduate courses. They apply to the Academy’s post graduate courses.

Quality Assurance Policy

The Academy’s quality assurance policy and quality assurance procedures have been developed over the last eleven years.

The Academy courses are taught at colleges throughout the world.

This published Quality Assurance Handbook is available to all students of Academy courses commencing January 2012.

The Quality Assurance Handbook provides a detailed framework for the continued enhancement of the quality of the educational experience of students and teachers. It also outlines the procedures which have been adopted to ensure that the highest possible standards are set, met and safeguarded.

Learning and Teaching

1.Transparency

The Academy’s Quality Assurance Handbook, Examination Guidelines and Procedures, and Student Charter documents are all available to students on the website www.irishacademy.com

2.Learner Population

The range of programmes on offer will continue to be expanded in the coming years to cater to the changing learning environment and to reflect employment requirements of the public relations, journalism and event management industries.

3.Learner Participation – Gathering and Assessing Feedback

The Academy will continue to develop and enhance its existing methods of gathering learner feedback on education programmes and support services.

4.Learner Participation – Complaints and Appeals Procedures

Fair and transparent mechanisms for processing complaints and appeals are detailed in the Examination Guidelines and Regulations document which is available on the Academy’s website. Continued development of these mechanisms will enhance the transparency of these structures.

5.Learning

5.1       The Academy has always sought to create the environment in which learners can take responsibility for their own learning. This has largely been achieved with the willing co-operation of students and partner colleges.

5.2       To assist students in taking responsibility for their own learning: (a) all relevant student information is made available to students on the Academy’s website; (b) the Academy offers students the opportunity to purchase certain recommended texts at reduced-cost; (c) students are advised of on-line resources which they should access; (d) students receive the Academy’s monthly ezine and have access to podcasts of the Mediascope radio programme.

5.3       To provide opportunities for active learning, the Academy encourages the use of group research, studio-based project work, field-trips to relevant environments (e.g. television / radio / newspaper premises, courts of justice etc), projects involving current and realistic costings, reflective practice and writing skills. In addition, as opportunities arise, the Academy provides information about job opportunities to students.

6.Learner Support Services

The Academy strives to maintain and improve the academic and support services available to learners. Good quality, accessible support services together with systems for evaluating them go hand in hand in a quality context.

Although generally not in demand for part-time students, the Academy has the following learner support services in place:

6.1       Disability Services.

The Academy welcomes students with disability and actively seeks to make their learning experience an easy and enjoyable one.

Our Course Co-Ordinator links directly with the College Support Services of each of the colleges our courses are taught at. For any student with a learning disability, our Co-Ordinator ensures that best practice procedures (as recommended and implemented by the College Support Services for their own students) are applied to Academy students.

Students on our online learning course are actively encouraged to make the Academy aware of any suggestions for improvements or amendments to existing structures or policies which would enhance the quality of their learning experience.

6.2       Finance Officer.

All matters of a financial nature are deal with by our Finance Officer.

6.3       Advice and Guidance.

Any student with a personal difficulty / family situation etc. is encouraged to arrange a one-to-one meeting with our director.

7.Sample Examination papers, Website references, reduced-cost texts, and library facilities.

7.1       Sample Examination Papers

In addition, students receive sample examination papers to guide their study and revision in each module.

7.2       Website References

Syllabus details for all modules additionally contain references to websites which provide additional sources of information.

Media organisations have vast and detailed websites containing current and archive material

7.3       Reduced Cost Texts

The Academy also makes certain texts available to students to purchase at reduced cost.

7.4       Library Facilities

Students of the Academy’s Higher Diploma course have access to the substantial resources of the library of the college in which they are studying.

Students on externally endorsed courses have access to the library and other facilities of those external bodies.

8.Assessment

8.1       Having in place fair and consistent assessment practices that satisfy external standards is a fundamental quality objective. The Academy is determined that the examination and assessment systems for programmes of study are fair, consistent, relevant to industry needs, and are capable of demonstrating that the required learning outcomes have been achieved.

8.2       To protect the integrity of the grades learners must have available sufficient information on assessment requirements and all component elements of final grades. To protect the integrity of the programmes, coursework and examinations must reflect best professional, academic and industry knowledge and practice.

9.Teaching

9.1       The Academy is committed to maintaining its current teaching policy, namely, that suitably qualified practitioners and tutors are retained by all partner colleges to provide the key teaching competencies on our courses. The skills that these professionals bring to the lecture theatres provide our students with cutting-edge, up-to-the-minute, best practice advantages in the employment market.

9.2      Regular progress feedback to learners together with timely and appropriate responses to coursework form a necessary backdrop to quality programme delivery.

10.Programmes

10.1     The Academy concentrates on providing programmes in the communications area, primarily in the fields of public relations, event management and journalism. The Academy seeks to provide a suite of communications programmes of varying content and standard (from foundation to postgraduate levels) together with a systematic process for the monitoring, evaluation and continuous enhancement of these programmes.

10.2     The continuous monitoring and development of these programmes ensures that they reflect best academic standards, best industry practice and most relevant industry qualifications.

10.3.1  The Academy has always been privileged to have active and/or retired members of the public relations, event management and journalism industries involved as teachers, subject examiners, and extern examiners for our courses.

11.Development of courses

The Certificate, Advanced Certificate, Diploma and Higher Diploma courses were developed in response to an industry need which was highlighted in discussion with journalists, event management professionals and public relations practitioners.

12.Feedback process for review and development of courses.

The introduction of syllabus change, arising from the ongoing review process,

is communicated to the different stakeholders in different ways. All are encouraged to participate in the process by which the change occurred.

13.Lifelong Learning

13.1     The Academy currently offers a suite of one and two-day programmes of continuing professional development, and specialised skills training in niche areas of communications.

13.2     In addition our suite of on-line courses, also available to graduates, is constantly being enhanced.

14.Lecturers and Tutors

Lecturers on the Academy’s courses are chosen by partner colleges. All are qualified in their fields and bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the classroom.

Tutors are appointed by the Academy and have an expertise in the area in which they tutor.

15.Management

15.1 The Academy’s Quality Assurance Handbook will be the repository for procedures facilitating a systematic approach to demonstrate and enhance quality. It is important that the systems put in place to manage quality continue to grow out of the active involvement of relevant stakeholders.

15.2 Recommendations for future development of courses are encouraged and generally arise from the Examination Board Meetings.

16.Verifiable Data

16.1 The Academy will generate and collate all necessary data in order to monitor critical quality indicators e.g. entry points, continuous assessment results, examination results, completion rates, learner feedback, extern examiners’ reports, exam board reports, and external periodic reviews.

16.2 Data will be considered by the most appropriate forum, planned interventions recorded and carried out, and the effectiveness of these interventions

evaluated.

17.Committee Structure – Exam Board

Each examination board will operate as a committee, and will meet once or twice a year, determined by the frequency of exams. Decisions of each board relating to examination results are directly communicated to students and lecturers. Recommendations for syllabus or examination changes are encouraged.

18.Committee Structure – Quality Administration Board.

The Quality Administration Board (QAB) will make recommendations on the content of specific programmes and modules. In addition, the QAB will recommend improvements for future courses related to content, teaching methods, industry requirements and quality issues.

19.Involvement of External Industry Experts

Two external industry experts advise the Academy on the strength and relevance of existing and proposed new courses. These industry members are an integral part of course development and course review.

20.Procedures for selection and appointment of Course Examiners.

The Academy has also been blessed with marvellous Course Examiners since it first commenced in 1992. Appointment of Examiners is by recommendation of the director or fellow Examiners. Course Examiners are senior practitioners in their field, whose wealth of knowledge and experience spans several decades. These Course Examiners bring considerable expertise, experience and guidance to the content and assessment of the programmes with which they are involved.

21.Human Resources

Every effort will be made to recruit and retain the staff required to ensure the continued delivery of a quality education service.

22.Procedures for the selection and approval of site of learning.  The Academy’s office, which administers all courses, is based in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.

With the exception of corporate training, our courses are taught by partner colleges throughout the world.

It is our policy that our students should have access to the finest study venues

in their country and each of our partner institutions have fine and well-established teaching venues and reputations.

When selecting a partner college, our preference is always to use an established educational institution, which allows our students to study in an academic environment.

23.Monitoring Campus Facilities

Campus facilities, although not within our control, are monitored on an annual basis by student questionnaire. Issues of concern to students or lecturers, feedback about facilities and suggested changes/improvements are communicated to the colleges.