As part of the University’s quality assurance framework, Continuous Action for Programme Enhancement (CAPE) is a key mechanism by which the University can assure itself of the quality, and maintain the academic standards, of its programmes. CAPE enables programme teams to reflect and act upon relevant programme-level information within their normal cycle of business, reducing duplication of effort; and enables Faculties/committees to make judgments on the School/programme team’s analysis of pertinent data and actions to address concerns or disseminate good practice. This work forms a significant part of the basis on which Academic Council seeks to provide assurance to Senate on the following matters, so that Senate may provide the required annual assurances to the Department for the Economy:
- Students’ academic experience at Queen’s is of an appropriate quality, and robust and appropriate methodologies are in place to ensure the continuous improvement of the student academic experience.
- Student outcomes are of an appropriate quality, and robust and appropriate methodologies are in place to ensure the continuous improvement of student outcomes.
- Degree standards are set and maintained at an appropriate level.
The CAPE Cycle
Figure 1 demonstrates the anticipated continuous nature of CAPE, with programme teams reviewing and reflecting on data, and planning and taking action throughout the academic year. To facilitate effective CAPE, it is recommended that CAPE sections are discussed within regular Faculty meetings with Directors of Education/Graduate Studies/Postgraduate Research, and the Quality Assurance and Regulations team in Academic Affairs (Mrs Jenny Brown for Undergraduate programmes (UG), Dr David Coleman for Postgraduate Taught programmes (PGT), and Dr Michelle Spence for Research Degree Programmes (RDP)). See the indicative CAPE timetable to support Faculty agenda planning.
Figure 1: CAPE Cycle
Figure 2 presents the main steps for CAPE Review, with Schools receiving feedback on their CAPE reports, Faculty Action Plans, and the Institutional Action Plan arising from CAPE Review.
Figure 2: CAPE Review
CAPE Process 2020-21
Cognisant of the significant steps and continual monitoring that have occurred across the University in 2019-20 to maintain standards and assure quality, particularly in response to the implications of COVID-19, CAPE is taking a light-touch approach for the review of the 19-20 academic year. Guidance, report templates and pre-populated School-specific reports have been provided on the CAPE SharePoint site (QUB staff login required).
Directors of Education/Graduate Studies/Postgraduate Research should complete one UG/PGT/RDP report per School. Directors should discuss their draft School report with their Faculty Dean before the final version is uploaded to SharePoint.
The Quality Assurance and Regulations Team in Academic Affairs will draft School feedback sheets for consideration at CAPE Faculty Review Panels (which include cross-University and student representation membership). Provision in the University Colleges, the Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS) and INTO will continue to be reviewed with cognate disciplines within Faculty Review Panels to facilitate wider peer review, learning, dissemination of good practice, and Institutional action. As with previous years, these Panels will consider the CAPE forms and agree School feedback, and discuss Faculty-level findings/actions.
The CAPE Steering Group, which includes Chairs of the Faculty Review Panels, will consider cross-Faculty findings, Faculty Priority Objectives, and any Institutional recommendations, and will provide assurances to Education Committee and Research and Postgraduate Committee on academic standards.
The deadline for the submission of completed CAPE reports is:
Undergraduate Programmes: 29 January 2021
Research Degree Programmes: 29 January 2021
Postgraduate Taught Programmes: 26 February 2021
Feedback from CAPE 2019-20
Following consultation on the first year of CAPE implementation, thematic areas for improvement, which were fully endorsed across the University, were implemented within CAPE in 2019-20.
CAPE reports in respect of 2018-19 programmes were carefully considered. Feedback from the UG and RDP Faculty Review Panels, and PGT Faculty Review Panel Chairs can be accessed on the CAPE SharePoint site (QUB staff login required).
In November 2020, Academic Council noted that the CAPE Faculty Review Panels/Chairs had provided assurances that consideration had been given to each School’s self-assessment of pertinent quantitative and qualitative data, and identification of actions for programme enhancement; and that School/programme-specific feedback had been given to support degree standards and continuous improvement of the student academic experience and student outcomes. On the basis of the information received through CAPE in tandem with the other constituent parts of the University’s quality assurance framework, Education Committee and Research and Postgraduate Committee were assured that undergraduate, postgraduate taught, and research degree provision continue to meet the expectations for standards and expectations for quality as outlined in the revised UK Quality Code for Higher Education.