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Behind the HE headlines is one key question – the purpose of universities

The past week’s higher education news demonstrates that there are certain expectations of universities that policymakers, HE leaders and the Augar review are expected to address, says Johnny Rich, Chief Executive of the Engineering Professors’ Council and Chief Executive of outreach organisation Push .

30 VCs sign new Civic University Agreement

Leaders of thirty universities have signed a Civic University Agreement, reaffirming their institution's commitment to their local communities by pledging to put the economy and quality of life in their home towns and cities at the top of their list of priorities.

Technology at heart of effective feedback to students, project finds

Technology is central to providing prompt and useful feedback to students, according to a new good practice guide.

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education in Scotland (QAA Scotland) has worked with 19 Scottish universities to ensure feedback is consistent, student-friendly and makes the best use of available technology.

Ian Kimber, QAA’s Director of Quality Development, said that in the National Student Survey (NSS), assessment and feedback was traditionally the area of the student experience with the lowest satisfaction levels.
 
QAA Scotland has produced a summary leaflet which offers 10 messages for policy makers to help encourage the use of technology to support assessment and feedback within universities.

It recommends workload models designed to support online learning, giving staff training and support in new technology and involving students in formulating assessment and feedback approaches.
 
Liz Marshall, Assistant Academic Registrar at the University of the West of Scotland, which took part in the project, said: "The sharing of good practice through this project has been phenomenal. One key thing for us has been the use of technology and how that supports feedback, not only on campus, but also for distance-learning students."
 
Student associations in Scotland have worked with their universities to improve the assessment and feedback processes. Many Scottish universities have signed Student Partnership Agreements highlighting how student views are represented and collaborating on a range of learning and teaching activity including assessment.

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