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2. Framework for Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement

2.1 Approach and guiding principles

2.1.1 The approach to T&L quality at the University is guided by QA and QE. QA processes are important in ensuring that standards are met. However, QE processes, which build on QA processes to facilitate continuous improvement based on critical self-reflection, are more powerful. They foster a climate of change and innovation and a sense of ownership. 

2.1.2 QA and QE processes are guided by several principles.

  • Learning outcomes of T&L should be aligned with the University’s educational aims and ILOs derived from the University’s vision and mission.
  • Resources should be aligned with the achievement of educational aims.
  • Processes should foster a culture of self-reflection and peer review, and provide flexibility and room for bottom-up initiatives.
  • Processes should promote collaboration and exchange of good practice amongst teachers.
  • Processes should be student-focused and supported by evidence of student learning experiences and learning outcomes.
  • Processes should involve internal and external benchmarking.

2.2 Governance and administration

2.2.1 The University’s QA and QE activities are governed and administered within a robust and effective framework. The Senate is the principal authority responsible for all academic matters. The Senate and its committees determine University policies and academic standards while considerable responsibility and autonomy are delegated to Faculties. Senate committees overseeing T&L matters and QA and QE processes submit annual reports to the Senate.

2.2.2 The implementation of T&L is overseen by teaching departments and programme committees, which report to the Faculty Board (or its committees), for onward advice to University-level committees as necessary. All taught curricula, at both Ug and TPg levels, undergo the same QA and QE processes, covering curriculum development and approval, implementation of T&L, assessment and monitoring and review.
2.2.3 Monitoring and review of all Ug and TPg curricula involve the solicitation of internal and external input, in particular the collection of evidence of student learning experiences and achievement of learning outcomes; development of recommendations for improvement; and implementation of recommendations and follow-up. External input is also sought in the curriculum development and approval process as necessary.
2.2.4 Student participation and feedback plays a vital role in the QA and QE processes, through course- and curriculum-level surveys of student learning experiences, as well as student membership on University, Faculty, Departmental and programme committees related to formal curriculum, co-curriculum and student support (Appendix 2.1).
2.2.5 A number of centres and units provide strong support to the implementation of T&L. In particular, TALIC offers a wide array of programmes and services to support Faculties in different aspects of T&L, and helps to identify and disseminate good practices across the University.
2.2.6 A comprehensive range of student support services are provided by different centres and units in curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. The major providers include the CEDARS, Horizons Office, Information Technology Services (ITS), TALIC, Libraries, Academic Advising and Scholarships Office (AASO), CAES, School of Chinese, Centre for Sports and Exercise (CSE), University Health Service and halls and residential colleges.
2.2.7 SIS provides an online platform to facilitate Faculties’ implementation of institutional policies and procedures on T&L, QA and QE, and enables the University to monitor the implementation of such policies across the University.

2.3 Roles and responsibilities

University level

2.3.1 The Senate is the principal authority responsible for all academic matters of the University, and is empowered by the University of Hong Kong Ordinance and Statutes to make regulations and to establish committees and delegate its powers as it sees fit.

2.3.2 The Council may propose to the Court, for recommendation to the Chancellor, amendments of Statute III to add new academic qualifications. In accordance with the provision under Statute XXIII.2(2), the Council’s approval should be sought where a waiver of the one semester’s notice requirement for regulatory and syllabus changes of academic curricula and programmes is required.

2.3.3 The Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning), who reports to the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, provides central leadership and plans major new initiatives in T&L, and promotes the scholarship of T&L across the University.  

2.3.4 There are two pillars of T&L committees, viz. academic development overseen by the AB, and QA and QE monitoring and control by the Teaching and Learning Quality Committee (TLQC). The reporting structure with the two pillars of T&L committees is at Appendix 2.2.

2.3.5AB advises the Senate on various aspects of academic activities, inclusive of review of academic objectives and policies of the University, review of proposals for new academic degrees or services, matters pertaining to the development of approved Ug and TPg curricula, changes in pedagogy, course structure and form of assessment that are conducive to the provision of quality education to students, academic reviews of Faculties and teaching Departments and other sub-divisions of studies and learning, and contents of the triennial Planning Exercise to be submitted by the University to the UGC.4 There is an AB Sub-group which facilitates the proposal review process, and assists AB in other matters (see paragraph 2.3.7 and Chapter 3).

2.3.6 There are five sub-committees under AB, viz. the AB Sub-Group, the Advisory Group on Academic Reviews (AGAR), Common Core Curriculum Committee, Committee on Chinese and English Language Enhancement (CCELE), and HKU Horizons Committee. The AB Sub-group facilitates the proposal review process, and assists AB in handling business related to the development of the taught curricula, and credit-bearing courses offered across the Ug curriculum as endorsed by AB’s sub-committees (see Chapter 3). The Sub-group will report to AB on straightforward and non-controversial business, and solicits AB’s endorsement for matters which have policy implications. AGAR serves as an advisory board for academic reviews, and ensures that academic reviews are undertaken in accordance with approved guidelines. The other three sub-committees are tasked with duties in specific aspects of curriculum/academic matters relating to CC Curriculum, Chinese and English language enhancement and the HKU Horizons programme. 

2.3.7TLQC oversees, on behalf of the Senate, the overall QA and QE of all components of the taught curricula and the co-curriculum, inclusive of the CC Curriculum, Chinese and English language enhancement, Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BASc) core courses, and the HKU Horizons programme, and promotion of good practices in T&L. An “Academic Advising and First Year Experience Committee” (AAFYEC) is formed as a sub-committee of the TLQC.
2.3.8 With the launch of a suite of new interdisciplinary BASc curricula from the academic year 2019-20, a BASc Curriculum Committee is established, as a committee of the Senate, to provide general oversight of the BASc curricula, and to oversee the development and delivery of the three BASc core courses which are part of the graduation requirement of all four-year BASc curricula.
2.3.9 The respective Terms of Reference of the key Senate committees and their sub-committees on QA and QE are at Appendix 2.3.

Faculty level 5

2.3.10 Faculty Boards report to the Senate directly or via its committees and sub-committees and are responsible for oversight, review and strategic planning of academic programmes and their academic quality and standards, scrutinising the implementation of institutional policies and procedures for T&L, and QA and QE in the Faculties, formulating Faculty guidelines and regulations within the institutional framework as necessary, monitoring outcomes of evaluations and reviews of T&L, and overseeing development of recommendations for improvement and follow-up actions. 

2.3.11 Faculty Teaching and Learning Quality Committee (FTLQC) oversees and coordinates matters pertaining to T&L, QA and QE, for advice to the Faculty Board, and via the Faculty Board to TLQC.
2.3.12 The Terms of Reference of the Faculty Board and FTLQCs are at Appendix 2.4.
2.3.13 Faculty Deans have responsibility for providing leadership in developing and coordinating strategic planning of the Faculties’ academic programmes, fostering links with students, alumni, and professional and other advisory bodies for QA and QE, and management of the pertinent human and financial resources, budgeting and personnel issues in the Faculties.
2.3.14 Each Faculty Dean appoints at least one Associate Dean to oversee T&L, QA and QE matters.  These Associate Deans provide leadership in the development, implementation and evaluation of T&L initiatives in their Faculty with the aim of QA and QE. They have responsibility for ensuring that appropriate mechanisms are in place in their Faculty to implement the institutional and Faculty policies and procedures in T&L, QA and QE, and that the Faculty’s academic programmes are undertaken within the institutional and Faculty framework. They usually chair Faculty committees and serve on University committees in T&L, QA and QE.
2.3.15 Programme planning constitutes an important part of the Faculty Development Plan. New programmes and major revisions to approved programmes must be endorsed by respective Faculty Boards before they are submitted to AB for consideration.
Department level 6
2.3.16 Under the leaderships of Heads, academic Departments have responsibility for the design and delivery of academic programmes in the Departments and their academic quality and standards, and implementation of T&L, QA and QE policies and procedures instituted at University and Faculty levels. Proposals for new programmes of study usually originate at Department level, for deliberation and endorsement at Faculty level.  Departmental strategies should be developed in line with the strategic direction of the Faculty and the University.
2.3.17 Heads of academic Departments are responsible for management of human and financial resources to ensure efficient planning and implementation of T&L, monitoring of student feedback results, and staff performance reviews in the Departments. They also act as Programme Directors of individual programmes and curricula, or nominate or appoint other staff to serve in this capacity.
Programme Directors and programme committees
2.3.18 Programme Directors lead and coordinate the development and delivery of individual programmes and curricula.7 They formulate PLOs to align with the University educational aims and the programme grade descriptors, nominate External Examiners, and monitor and review the Student Feedback on Teaching and Learning (SFTL) results on course feedback for enhancement of T&L quality of their programmes and curricula.
2.3.19 Programme committees may be formed, particularly in respect of interdisciplinary programmes and TPg curricula, to discharge partially or wholly the relevant roles and responsibilities of academic Departments.
Teachers and Course Coordinators
2.3.20 Teachers are responsible for the delivery and assessment as well as the academic quality and standards of their courses. They are entrusted with the following responsibilities which should be discharged in accordance with the policies and guidelines approved by the Senate or other authorities from time to time: designing learning activities and forms of assessment appropriate to the achievement of the CLOs, delivering classes and other forms of T&L activities, carrying out assessment, monitoring and evaluation of student work, providing other forms of academic support to students in their learning activities, and monitoring and review of SFTL results of the course.
2.3.21 The Course Coordinator, who is usually the teacher of the course or one of the co-teachers in a co-taught course, is responsible for formulating CLOs to align with the PLOs and course grade descriptors, coordinating the design and delivery of the course, reviewing and aligning T&L activities and assessment with the CLOs and ensuring that students understand the alignment, grade moderation, supervising any tutor(s), demonstrator(s), and teaching assistant(s) assigned to the course, and monitoring and reviewing feedback from students, inclusive of SFTL results on course feedback, for enhancement of T&L quality of the course.
4 Institutions previously submitted a triennial Academic Development Proposal.
5 Reference to the powers of the Faculty Boards shall be applicable to Senate Boards of Studies which administer Ug and TPg curricula.
6 The Faculties of Business and Economics, Dentistry and Education are unitary Faculties, under which there are no teaching Departments formed by the Senate. The roles and responsibilities described under department level are discharged by the Faculty.
7 Programme Directors may be appointed by the relevant Head(s) of Department(s), or Faculty Dean or Faculty Board in accordance with established practices of respective Faculties.