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:
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/Chairs of School Postgraduate Research Committees (or equivalent), and the Quality Assurance and Regulations team in Academic Affairs (Mrs Jenny Brown for UG, Dr David Coleman for PGT, and Dr Michelle Spence for 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
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. The relevant Faculty Review Panels considered the Undergraduate (UG) and Research Degree Programme (RDP) CAPE reports in respect of 2018-19 programmes, in February 2020. Feedback from the UG and RDP Faculty Review Panels can be accessed on the CAPE SharePoint site (QUB staff login required). Postgraduate Taught (PGT) CAPE Reports in respect of 2018-19 PGT programmes were received from Schools by the deadline of 28 February 2020. However, due to the prolonged emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Faculty Review Panels which had been scheduled for April 2020 were cancelled and replaced by a desk-based review of the submissions, undertaken by Faculty Deans in collaboration with Academic Affairs. PGT programme-specific feedback will be provided to Schools by October 2020.
The review of 2019-20 programmes (which takes place during 2020-21) will be vital to consider the actions taken across programmes to maintain academic standards within the COVID-19 emergency. The CAPE process to be completed next academic year will be significantly streamlined to take account of both the reflections needed and the demand on staff time. The framework for the light-touch CAPE process will be developed in consultation with Faculty Deans and will be communicated to Schools in due course.
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