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Procedures for the Validation of New UG and PGT Programmes (Effective from AY2324)

1. INTRODUCTION

Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) is accredited by the University of Liverpool (UoL) for the delivery of Liverpool awards. As such, there is a robust process in place which allows UoL to validate the quality and academic standard of provision developed by XJTLU as suitable for an award of UoL.

As many students who are registered for undergraduate degrees at XJTLU are entitled to transfer to UoL under the 2+2 articulation route, it is also necessary for UoL to be satisfied that the provision delivered in Years 1 and 2 at XJTLU adequately prepares the students for the curriculum they will follow in Years 2 and 3 at UoL (XJTLU Years 3 and 4).

As an independent University, XJTLU delivers programmes in accordance with its own principles and regulations, including alignment with internal modular frameworks for taught provision, which are endorsed by UoL. However, for programmes which will lead to a UoL award, there is also an expectation that they will be consistent with the UK qualifications framework and appropriate subject benchmarks.

The guidelines below have been prepared by the XJTLU Education and Quality Assurance Office (EQA) to outline the steps and procedures involved for the validation of new undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes in a timely and efficient manner. EQA will assist and work with the relevant school/academy (hereinafter referred to as ‘Academic Unit’) throughout the steps described below, collaborate with UoL Academic Quality & Standards Division (AQSD), and act as the main liaison between the Academic Unit and AQSD, internal reviewer, as well as UoL and external reviewers.

 

2. FORWARD PLANNING AND TIMESCALE

Academic Units are required to submit an ‘Intention Form for New Programme Proposal‘P0F for both new UG and PGT programmes at least two years before the proposed date of first intake which will be reviewed by the university from the perspective of the institutional strategic goals and plans, resource implications, as well as Ministry of Education regulations. After the approval from the working group chaired by Vice President Academic Affairs is obtained, the Intention Form will also need to be reviewed by a series of committees before being submitted to Senior Management Team (SMT) for the final approval. The outline approval stage, which is the first step of the UoL validation process, will start after the SMT’s approval.

It is expected that all steps of the UoL validation process will be concluded within 12 months after outline approval (see also Section 4 below) and by the end of the academic year preceding that in which the programme will be delivered for the first time. A flowchart for approval process and indicative timescale for completion is available in Appendix 1.

 

3. APPROVAL BY CHINESE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION

In addition to the UoL validation, EQA will also assist the Academic Unit to prepare documents for both new UG and PGT programmes to seek MoE’s (Ministry of Education, People’s Republic of China) approval after outline proposals being approved by XJTLU University’s Learning and Teaching Committee (ULTC) and UoL Collaborative Provision Committee (CPC). MoE approval application and UoL validation are carried out in parallel to avoid any delays in the launching of new academic programmes, but the two programme structures proposed to MoE and UoL should be consistent with each other.

For new programmes, both approvals from MoE and UoL should be obtained prior to promotion, marketing and student recruitment.

EQA shall notify associated stakeholders about the results of MoE approval application and UoL validation, which include but are not limited to the Academic Unit, University Marketing and Communication (UMC), Student Admissions and Career Development Office (SACDO), X-Global (X-Glo), Registry Office, and XJTLU Graduate School (for new PGT programmes only).

 

4. OUTLINE PROPOSAL

After the proposed programme is formally endorsed by SMT, the first step to initiate the UoL validation process is ‘outline approval’. An outline proposal will be developed by the Academic Unit for this purpose via Curriculum, an online programme and module management system on E-bridge.

Academic Units are required to consult with their respective academic colleagues at UoL, and the departments/schools/academies at XJTLU in the case of affected modules and/or programmes during the development phase of the documents, as well as be mindful of the programme structure submitted to MoE for approval (see Section 3 above). Possible 2+2 articulation routes for undergraduate programmes should also be explored and identified at this stage.

After the submission of outline proposal evidencing Academy/School Learning and Teaching Committee’s approval, it will need to be reviewed and approved by ULTC prior to submission to UoL.

Outline proposals of new XJTLU programmes are submitted to the UoL Collaborative Provision Committee (CPC), and the final programme documentation is submitted to the UoL University Approval Panel (UAP) for validation, by EQA in both cases. Outline approval remains valid for 12 months from the date of approval. It is, therefore, assumed that the full programme validation will be completed within this 12-month period and beyond that time a resubmission of the outline proposal will need to take place.

If an outline proposal refers to the need for significant additional resources, such as new teaching staff, facilities, equipment, software, and etc. for the new programme, EQA will also submit a memo to UoL from Associate Vice President Education detailing any significant resource requirements and confirming the University’s commitment to the provision of necessary resources for the successful delivery of the programme.

In order to avoid any delay in the validation process beyond this 12-month period, EQA will send a tentative timeline to the Academic Unit after outline approval for the completion of various steps of the validation process, taking into consideration the meeting dates of the relevant XJTLU and UoL committees that the programme documents will be submitted to.

 

5. PROMOTION, MARKETING AND STUDENT RECRUITMENT

XJTLU is UUUNOT allowed to promote a new programme until appropriate approval has been obtained from both MoE and UoL. Thus marketing and promotion could not start until both approvals from MoE and UoL are obtained. To facilitate the preparation of marketing materials, EQA will send a University website template which the Academic Unit should complete both in English and Chinese. The template will be used by the University Marketing and Communication Department (UMC) to develop the programme page on the University website, as well as other promotion materials.

When the template is completed by the Academic Unit and submitted to UMC by EQA, EQA’s role with regard to the marketing of the programme will be completed, and the Academic Unit will communicate directly with UMC, SACDO, X-Glo, Registry, XGS (for new PGT programmes only) and other internal or external parties for the promotion, recruitment and admission processes.

 

6. PROGRAMME AND MODULE SPECIFICATIONS

After outline approval, the Academic Unit will develop the programme and module specifications for internal scrutiny. It’s worth noting that the completion of programme and module proposals along with the relevant processes will be carried out online via Curriculum. While developing the programme specification, the Academic Unit should keep in mind that the programme structure and list of modules should be consistent with those submitted to MoE for approval and in the outline proposal (see Sections 3 and 4 above).

Academic Units are encouraged to use existing modules in their new programmes, as long as the relevant module leaders, Director of Education Research and Development Institutes (ERDI), and Associate Deans for Learning and Teaching of the schools/academies hosting the modules are consulted in advance, to ensure that the resource implications are acceptable and the proposed curriculum structure has been agreed by all concerned.

Academic Units should consider the new programme validation process as an opportunity to further improve the quality of existing module specifications, in collaboration with the relevant departments and schools/academies, since the UoL Approval Panel (UAP), during its review of final programme documentation, treats equally those existing modules that have been approved/validated in the past and the new modules being submitted for the first time.

To better support the programme design, relevant policies/guidance and screen recordings are available in the Reference Documents section under Curriculum for programme teams’ reference.

 

7. FORMALITIES CHECK

Upon receiving the programme and module specifications, CVs of external reviewers, and supporting documents (Academy/School LTC approval evidence, and consultation with different stakeholders where necessary, etc.) from Academic Units via Curriculum, EQA will conduct formalities check, including whether all required documents have been completed, and if templates in use are up-to-date. More specifically, EQA will also undertake a scrutiny review on programme and module details, to ensure that the programme design is in alignment with relevant MoE and QAA requirements, and XJTLU Frameworks.

EQA will keep close contact with Academic Units during the formalities check process to ensure that any issues in question are properly and timely addressed.

 

8. INTERNAL REVIEW

EQA will coordinate the appointment of an internal reviewer by Associate Vice President Education immediately after the outline approval, who will normally be a member of the University Learning and Teaching Committee.

When the first version of programme and module specifications are submitted to Curriculum evidencing Academy/School LTC approval and checked by EQA, EQA will initiate the internal review. The internal reviewer is required to complete review and submit the internal review report in Curriculum within 2-3 weeks.

Upon receipt of the internal reviewer’s report, the Academic Unit will be required to respond to reviewer’s comments and recommendations, revise the programme and module specifications as needed in Curriculum with Academy/School LTC approval.

If as a result of the internal review, any of the existing module specifications shared with other programmes will need to be revised, the relevant module leaders, Director of ERDI, or the Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching of the academic units who host the shared modules should also be involved in the discussion/revision/approval process.

 

9. UCRP APPROVAL AFTER INTERNAL REVIEW

Upon the completion and submission of the Academic Unit’s response to internal reviewer’s report and of the revision of programme and module specifications, as well as Academy/School LTC approval in Curriculum, the latest version of the programme documents will be reviewed and approved by University Curriculum Review Panel (UCRP). The next step, i.e. external review, cannot start until UCRP approval is obtained.

 

10. EXTERNAL REVIEWS

According to UoL validation procedures, the programme documents will need to be reviewed by two external reviewers, who are to be recommended by the Academic Unit and approved both internally and by UoL, as explained below. The following criteria will apply to the appointment of external reviewers:

  • At least one of the external reviewers must be a senior academic from a higher education institution in the UK with up-to-date experience in the relevant subject area;
  • The second external reviewer may be from a university in China or any other country, as appropriate, and should possess suitable qualifications and up-to-date experience in the relevant subject area;
  • Both external reviewers must have suitable qualifications and experience with academic provision in the relevant subject area, i.e. experience in developing, managing or reviewing/evaluating academic programmes;
  • Neither of the external reviewers should have acted as External Examiner/Moderator for XJTLU or UoL within the past five years;
  • Neither of the external reviewers should hold appointments at UoL or XJTLU, nor be employees of XJTLU or UoL within the last five years.

External reviewer #1: UK-based potential candidates who fulfil the criteria are recommended by the Academic Unit and their contact information and/or CVs should be uploaded to Curriculum so that EQA will coordinate the approval and appointment process. The appointment of UK-based external adviser(s) will be subject to approval by both the XJTLU Associate Vice President Education and the UoL-CPC.

External reviewer #2: As undergraduate programmes are subject to Chinese degree awarding power process and master’s programmes are submitted to the Ministry of Education for official recognition, it would be highly advisable for the 2PPPndPPP reviewer to have proper knowledge and understanding of the Chinese education system and job market, whether they are based in China or not, in order to ensure the programme design is conformed to National Quality Standards of Undergraduate Programmes in Learning and Teaching in Ordinary Colleges and Universities. The appointment of non-UK-based external adviser(s) will be subject to approval by the XJTLU Associate Vice President Education only, and their CVs will be sent to UoL for information.

The process for the external reviewer appointment and the external review is as follows:

  • Academic Unit identifies suitable candidates, and uploads their CVs or link of biography together with programme and module specifications to Curriculum before internal review;
  • EQA obtains the approval of Associate Vice President Education of the proposed candidates;
  • EQA submits the UK-based external reviewer’s CV or link of biography to UoL for approval and non-UK based reviewer’s CV for information;
  • EQA, after the UK-based external reviewer is approved by UoL, formally contacts the candidates to invite them, on behalf of Associate Vice President Education, to serve in this capacity;
  • After the candidates accept the invitation, the programme documentation will be shared with the reviewer and requests his/her written comments within 2-3 weeks;
  • A modest honorarium will be paid to external reviewers upon receipt of their reports, which will be arranged by EQA via Finance Office.

The following documents will be provided to external reviewers by EQA via Curriculum:

  • Programme specification;
  • Module specifications;
  • XJTLU Framework for UG/PGT Programmes (for reference only);
  • XJTLU UG/PGT Marking Descriptors (for reference only).

 

11. ULTC APPROVAL AFTER EXTERNAL REVIEWS

Upon receipt of external reports, the Academic Unit will be required to respond to all comments and recommendations by completing a ‘combined response’ template, revise the programme and module specifications accordingly, and obtain Academy/School LTC approval.

When the programme documents have been finalised, the following documentation will be submitted in Curriculum for University Learning and Teaching Committee review and approval:

  • Programme specification;
  • Module specifications;
  • Internal reviewer’s report;
  • Academic Unit’s response to internal review;
  • Two external reviewers’ reports;
  • Academic Unit’s combined response to external reviews.

 

12. UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL SUBJECT-AREA REVIEW

The XJTLU Academic Unit is normally expected to start discussions with the equivalent UoL academic unit from an early stage in new programme developments, as described above in Section 4.

Further, representative(s) of the relevant academic subject-area from UoL will also be asked to scrutinise the programme documentation as part of the formal validation process. The final programme documentation (see full list in Section 12 below) submitted by EQA to UoL will be forwarded by AQSD to the UoL subject-area reviewer, who will act additionally as the UoL Curriculum Board and Academic Unit Scrutiny Panel reviewer, providing scrutiny from a quality and subject perspective.

 

13. SUBMISSION TO LIVERPOOL FOR FINAL VALIDATION

The following documentation will be submitted by EQA to UoL Approval Panel (UAP) after ULTC approval:

  • Programme specification;
  • Module specifications;
  • Module overview and programme assessment strategy (see Appendix 4);
  • A commentary on the provision including any key differences between the XJTLU programme and its equivalent at UoL, as appropriate;
  • Internal reviewer’s report;
  • Programme team’s response to internal review evidencing Academy/School LTC approval;
  • Reports from two external reviewers;
  • Programme team’s combined response to external reviews evidencing Academy/School LTC approval;
  • Extracts from the relevant minutes of the XJTLU University Learning and Teaching Committee (EQA will provide);

In addition, for PGT provision additional evidence to demonstrate capacity for delivery will be required as follows:

  • An overview of the overall staffing to be involved in delivery of the programme and details of any additional appointments required in order to back-fill for undergraduate delivery (e.g. staffing matrix, listing the names of academic staff who will teach every module on the proposed programme);
  • Research plans/strategy for the Academic Unit, and details of research income and outputs;
  • A statement of endorsement from Vice President Academic Affairs confirming confidence in Academic Unit’s ability to cope with the additional demands of PGT provision (EQA will provide).

Feedback from the UoL subject-area reviewer will be provided at the meeting of the University Approval Panel and shared with EQA following the meeting. Any necessary amendments needed to be made to documentation before the programme may be validated will be submitted to the UAP Chair for approval and will not be required to be resubmitted to a further UAP meeting.

 

14. REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

The Academic Unit should refer to the following documents during the programme development process:

  • XJTLU Framework for UG/PGT Programmes;
  • XJTLU Marking Descriptors for UG/PGT Programmes;
  • XJTLU Code of Practice on Assessment;
  • Relevant QAA Subject Benchmark Statements;
  • National Quality Standards of Undergraduate Programmes in Learning and Teaching in Ordinary Colleges and Universities;
  • The Frameworks for HE Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies.

 

Appendices:

1. Flowchart and timescale
2. Template for ‘Intention Form for New Programme Proposal’
3. Template for ‘UoL Outline Proposal’
4. Templates for ‘Module Overview and Programme Assessment Strategy’ (UG and PGT)

 

(Last review date: 14 June 2023)

 

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