Academic Policy and Quality Framework

The Academic Policy and Quality Framework (‘The Framework’) sets out the University of Birmingham’s mechanisms for assuring and enhancing the quality of its academic provision, leading to the outcomes expected by the Office for Students (OfS), the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA) for the University of Birmingham Dubai, and the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) for the University’s apprenticeship programmes. The Framework includes many of the elements that have formed a basis for the University’s quality assurance for many years, along with more recent developments. The Framework is the means by which this variety of mechanisms is articulated.

The Framework is presented as three interrelated elements. At the centre of these elements is oversight by University Committees.



The University’s Legislation addresses matters of institutional governance and organisation. As defined in the University Statutes, University Legislation consists of the Charter, Statutes, Ordinances, Regulations and Codes of Practice of the University. All members of staff and students are subject to the Legislation. 

Whilst the Charter and Statutes are at the top of this hierarchy and address matters of institutional governance and organisation, most staff and students are affected directly only by Ordinances, Regulations and Codes of Practice, which contain principles and standards designed to control or govern conduct, or provide direction.


The Ordinances provide more detail on the exercise of powers than in the Statutes. They distribute the authority of Council to committees and to executive officers, and control use of that authority. They contain provisions regarding the Senate, the University Executive Board, College Boards, and the Court, and establish the main elements of the University's organisational structure. Ordinances may be amended or augmented by the University Council.


The Regulations contain principles and standards designed to control or govern conduct or provide direction at a more detailed level than Ordinances. Sections 1-4 and section 9 may be amended or augmented by the Council. Authority to amend or augment sections 5-8 (the academic and student-related Regulations) has been delegated to the Senate. Expectations such as student conduct, rules for calculation of degree classification, and the structure of different programme types are set out in the Regulations.

Codes of Practice, Policy and Guidance

Supplementing the Regulations, there are a number of academic and academic-related Codes of Practice, Policies and Guidance documents. These set out the procedures to be followed in specific areas. Expectations such as those relating to student attendance, moderation of marks, and providing academic support are set out in the Codes of Practice, Policies and Guidance.


The University employs a number of procedures to assure the quality of our educational provision on an ongoing basis.

Programme and Module Approval Procedures

The University’s programme and module approval procedures ensure that the appropriate School, College and University approval is granted for curriculum developments. The procedures are risk-based in order that (for example) minimal approval is sought for minor amendments at module level, whereas University-level approval is required for the creation of a new programme.

Collaborative Provision Procedures

Collaborative Provision procedures ensure that the University maintains effective oversight of its collaborative arrangements. The procedures also ensure oversight of the development and operation of programmes delivered with collaborating organisations.

External Examiner System (Taught Provision)

External examiners (taught provision) are appointed to provide the University with impartial and independent advice and informed comment on the institution’s academic standards and student achievement in relation to those standards, through oversight of the assessment process at the module and programme / award level. All University programmes of study, and modules therein, which lead to an award of credit at foundation, undergraduate or postgraduate taught level must have one or more external examiners appointed. Expectations for external examiners are set out in the Code of Practice on External Examining (Taught Provision).

External Advisors for Academic Standards

The University also appoints two External Advisors on Academic Standards, one for Undergraduate taught programmes and one for Postgraduate taught Programmes. These External Advisors complement and enhance the work of subject- and programme-level external examiners in setting and maintaining academic standards and providing external assurance of the quality of the University’s awards.

Student Representation System

The Student Representation System (SRS) is a partnership between the University and the Guild of Students. The aim of the SRS is to ensure that every student at Birmingham is effectively represented to the University and the Guild by a fellow student or postgraduate researcher (PGR). It is founded on the belief that through effective representation students become partners in their education, which facilitates a more active involvement in, and ownership of, their learning.

Student representation at Birmingham is coordinated by a joint University-Guild committee, the Student Representation System Advisory Board (SRSAB), which is co-chaired by the Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Student Academic Engagement and Experience) and the Guild Education Officer.

Student Conduct, Complaints, Academic Appeals, and Grievances to Council

University Legislation sets out the circumstances in which students will be subject to disciplinary or fitness to practise measures and detail the procedures to be followed in the event of reported student misconduct or fitness to practise concerns. The University also has processes which enable students to make representations against progress decisions which have had a negative effect on them or their future career (academic appeals); to express dissatisfaction with their experience at the University or the service it provides (student complaints); or, under special circumstances, if all other avenues have been exhausted but an issue remains unresolved, raise a grievance to University Council. These procedures ensure that matters can be dealt with efficiently, that the University’s standards are maintained, and that it will take seriously concerns raised by its students or about its students where necessary.

Data on these processes are reported to the University Quality Assurance Committee (UQAC) each session. UQAC may take action, as necessary, in response to this data (for example, by instigating a Specific Check). This data is also reported to the University’s Council each academic session.


The University has a system of annual, periodic and one-off reviews which enable the University to assure the quality of its provision. In addition to these internal review mechanisms the University engages with outside agencies which review the activity of the University. 

Internal Review:

Global and Strategic Review

The Global and Strategic Review process is a strategic and integrated peer review, providing a picture of the performance of the whole School / Institute, or Professional Service and its contribution to enhancing the University’s performance in line with the Strategic Framework and the Global Top 50 ambition. The Strategic Review includes a review of learning and teaching and builds on the Annual Review of Programmes and Modules. A key element of academic Reviews is the detailed scrutiny of education issues through a range of performance data and information relating to education.

Annual Review of Programmes and Modules (“Annual Review”)

Annual Review is an essential part of the University's quality assurance and enhancement system.  It provides Schools with a regular opportunity to reflect on and evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching and supervisory portfolio, with a view to the continual enhancement of provision for students.

Collaborative Provision Review

Collaborative provision arrangements are normally subject to time-delimited legal agreements, usually with a review some 12 months before the expiry of the agreements. These programmes are also subject to Annual Programme Review by the relevant School within the University.

External Review:

Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs)

A number of programmes of study delivered by the University of Birmingham are subject to various forms of accreditation and validation by professional, statutory and regulatory bodies (PSRBs). In many cases periodic review by the PSRB is a requirement of ongoing validation / accreditation. All PSRB reports are reviewed by the University to ensure that appropriate actions are being taken. The University Policy on PSRB’s can be found under the “Taught Programmes and Modules” section on the Codes of Practice intranet pages.

Office for Students

The University of Birmingham is regulated by the Office for Students (OfS). This regulation involves adherence to OfS-defined conditions of registration and commitment to the continuous improvement of the educational experience we offer students and engagement with the external quality assurance mechanisms managed by the OfS. The University also ensures alignment with the Expectations and Core and Common Practices of the Quality Assurance Agency’s UK Quality Code. Key University-level committees are responsible for managing our approach to external regulation (e.g. UQAC, University Education Committee, and Senate).

Commission for Academic Accreditation

The University of Birmingham Dubai is regulated by the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA). The CAA is the national quality assurance and regulatory agency responsible for evaluation and accreditation of higher educational institutions and universities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). As a matter of the highest priority, it sets out to safeguard academic standards, and to assure and enhance the quality of learning opportunities provided for students in UAE's higher education institutions. All the programmes on offer at the University of Birmingham Dubai have accreditation from the CAA.

Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted)

The University of Birmingham offers a number of apprenticeship programmes. In April 2021, Ofsted became responsible for the inspection of apprenticeship provision at all levels to ensure consistent judgements and approaches across the provision. This means that Ofsted will inspect all apprenticeship training and skills bootcamps at registered OfS providers and will report its judgements to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (which is an executive agency sponsored by the Department for Education) and the OfS. The ESFA, as the body with overall accountability for the apprenticeship programme, will determine any action necessary on the basis of its intervention policy.

Office of the Independent Adjudicator

The Higher Education Act (2004) requires that all universities subscribe to an independent ombudsman scheme for the resolution of student complaints. The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) is the external ombudsman for higher education in England and Wales.

If asked to do so, the OIA will review the University’s final decision on matters of dispute between it and its students (complaints, academic appeals, appeals against misconduct / fitness to practise findings). The OIA’s review will consider whether the University applied its procedures properly and whether the decisions made at each stage were reasonable in all the circumstances. The OIA may also provide comment upon the University’s policies and procedures where it finds these to be inappropriate, for example where procedures are too long or complex, or where students are not given appropriate rights to a fair hearing.

UQAC considers data on all student complaints and appeals within the University on an annual basis. This includes information about cases which have been reviewed by the OIA. All recommendations made by the OIA are reported to UQAC along with details of the University’s response to the recommendations.


The University is committed to the continuous enhancement of the quality of its provision, and enhancement is central to the University’s Strategic Framework and Education Strategy. Enhancement arises both from routine quality assurance processes (through which examples of good practice in teaching delivery and related areas are identified and shared) and from specific quality enhancement and development activity.

The University’s approach to enhancement in a broad sense is focused upon the delivery of a curriculum that:

  • Offers breadth, stretch, challenge and opportunity
  • Is personalised, inclusive and supportive
  • Provides a research-intensive teaching and learning experience
  • Engages students in their learning experience
  • Promotes and values excellence in teaching

At the heart of our excellent education is outstanding teaching. The University has always recognised the importance of supporting and rewarding teaching and has an institute dedicated to innovation in teaching, the Higher Education Futures institute (HEFi). HEFi engages staff and students across the University in research-intensive learning and teaching, offer opportunities for co-creation of curricula using ‘living labs’ with students, and provide enhanced learning opportunities across the University’s physical, virtual and transnational educational environments.


The elements of the Framework are overseen by Senate sub-Committees. This ensures the ongoing suitability of the Framework as well as an appropriate level of oversight of activities carried out under the Framework.

University Education Committee (UEC)

UEC oversees the development and delivery of the University’s Education Strategy and related educational activity, including student surveys. UEC considers, amongst other things, summary reports on the annual review of taught provision and external examiner comments on taught provision. UEC maintains strategic oversight of academic and student-related policy and legislation and considered significant education-related issues, lessons learnt and themes arising from quality assurance processes. UEC is chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education). UEC reports to Senate.

Education Innovation Advisory Group (EIAG)

EIAG develops and delivers the University’s education innovation agenda, determines and communicates the priorities for teaching and learning innovation activity, and considers action reports focussed on specific education innovation activity for the purpose of monitoring progress and outcomes. EIAG is chaired by the Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education Innovation). EIAG reports to UEC.

Student Experience and Engagement Group (SEEG)

SEEG focuses on improving the academic engagement of undergraduate and postgraduate students through developing strategies that will have a direct impact on academic outcomes whilst enhancing academic engagement. SAEG is chaired by the Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Student Academic Engagement and Experience).  SEEG reports to UEC.

Student Access, Progress and Inclusion Committee (SAPIC)

SAPIC monitors the access, retention, attainment, and progression of all undergraduate and post-graduate students. SAPIC is chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education). SAPIC reports to UEC.

University Quality Assurance Committee (UQAC)

UQAC develops and keeps under review the University’s systems, strategic academic policy matters, policies and guidance for assuring the quality of the University’s academic provision, receiving reports from College Quality Assurance and Approval Committees (or equivalent). UQAC receives regular reports from the five Colleges of the University, and its sub-committees. UQAC approves decisions about new programmes, modifications to programmes, and where appropriate new or modified modules. UQAC is chaired by the Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education).  UQAC reports to UEC.

Apprenticeships and Skills Bootcamp Steering Group (ASBSG)

ASBSG is responsible for managing the portfolio of Apprenticeships and Bootcamps, ensuring proposals for new Apprenticeships fit with the University’s Apprenticeship Strategy. ASBSG is chaired by the Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education). ASBSG reports to UQAC.

Collaborative Provision Committee (CPC)

CPC is responsible for the development, management, and review of collaborative provision arrangements. CPC considers, and if thought appropriate, approves all proposals for new collaborative arrangements prior to final approval. CPC is chaired by the Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education).  CPC reports to UQAC.

Graduate Research Board (GRB)

GRB oversees postgraduate research strategy and other PGR matters, including data on PGR numbers, trends and completion rates, support for PGRs in terms of supervision, training, study space and facilities, and the appropriateness of the University’s Regulations and Codes of Practice related to research degree programmes. GRB is chaired by the Director of Postgraduates (PGR). GRB reports to UQAC.

Graduate Taught Board (GTB)

GTB defines, directs, and coordinates the cross-institutional work of the University Graduate School. GTB monitors data and student feedback on current Postgraduate Taught (PGT) activities, shares good practice and develops support for PGT student experience, and contributes to PGT related institutional audits. GTB is chaired by the Director of Postgraduate Taught. GTB reports to UQAC

Progress and Awards Board (PAB)

PAB determines recommendations made notwithstanding regulations, ensures that the recommendations of Boards of Examiners have been in made in accordance with University Legislation, and identifies any academic policy issues to report to UQAC. PAB is chaired by the Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education). PAB reports to UQAC.

Student Representation System Advisory Board (SRSAB)

SRSAB oversee the operation of the Student Representation System at undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate researcher level across the University. SRSAB monitors feedback from Staff-Student Forums, addressing issues, initiating reviews, or making changes, as appropriate. SRSAB is a joint University-Guild committee co-chaired by the Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Student Academic Engagement and Experience) and the Guild Education Officer. SRSAB reports to SEEG.

University Executive Board (UEB)

UEB (which is not a sub-Committee of Senate) steers the implementation of University strategy and policies. UEB considers reports on academic quality and standards, and student complaints and appeals. UEB also has oversight of the VCIR process. UEB is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal. UEB reports to Council. 



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