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Learning and Teaching Handbook

9.7.9 University Liaison Officers

Purpose of the University Liaison Officer System

1. Liaison Officers are appointed to ensure that the programme offered by the Partner Organisation and validated by the University is established at, and maintains, the appropriate academic standard. Appointment as a University Liaison Officer and the carrying out of associated duties is a core activity in addition to the normal duties of a member of academic staff and should be treated as equivalent to an external examinership.

2. External Examiners are appointed in the usual manner and are required to carry out their prescribed duties, namely to ensure;

a. that qualifications awarded in similar subjects are comparable in standard in different universities in the United Kingdom, though their content naturally varies; and

b. that the assessment system is fair and is fairly operated in the classification of students.

3. Liaison Officers are appointed as an additional measure to act as representatives of the University offering the named awards. There should be close liaison between External Examiners and Liaison Officers. However, the Liaison Officer has particular responsibility for ensuring that the Partner Organisation's policies and procedures are equivalent to those of the University. In so doing they engage directly with the management of the academic programme that leads to the awards. Advice and guidance on University policy is available through the Academic Support Office.

Appointment of University Liaison Officers

4. Quality and Standards Sub-Committee will normally make permanent the temporary University Liaison Officer following Senate approval of the validation proposal. At the end of his/her term of office a replacement permanent Liaison Officer will be appointed following nomination by the chair of the Management Committee and approval by the chair of Quality and Standards Sub-Committee. Each permanent Liaison Officer shall receive on appointment from the relevant faculty support officer in the Academic Support Office all regulations, syllabuses and other documentation associated with the programme.

5. Quality and Standards Sub-Committee will appoint a temporary Liaison Officer (or Liaison Officers if it is felt that more than one Liaison Officer is required) at an early stage in the process by which the University considers a proposal for validation. In the event of the proposal receiving approval from the University it would normally be expected that this Liaison Officer would continue to serve as permanent Liaison Officer for a period of four to five years and subsequently be eligible for re-appointment for one further period only.

Role and Responsibilities of the University Liaison Officer

6. The duties of permanent Liaison Officers will include:

a. serving as a member of the Management Committee established for the validated programme. The Management Committee normally meets three times a year;

b. representing the university, if invited, in the appointing process for new staff to be appointed to the Partner Organisation, where it is intended that they will teach or examine on the validated programme. The responsibility of an Liaison Officer in this situation is to ensure that the quality and standards necessary for continued validation by the university of the programme are maintained;

c. considering the curriculum vitae of any existing member of staff of the Partner Organisation or individual external to the Organisation who is appointed to teach on the validated programme after the original validation submission has been approved. The responsibility of a Liaison Officer in this situation is to ensure that the quality and standards necessary for continued validation by the University of the programme are maintained;

d. representing the University on committees in the Partner Organisation, in addition to appointing committees, and acting as the point of contact on any academic matters which arise in relation to the programme;

e. advising, on request, in the appointment of the External Examiner(s) for the programme;

f. monitoring programme progress and development and scrutinising proposed changes. It is a particular responsibility of an assessor to monitor the implications of cumulative changes through, for example, the approval of new modules;

g. acting as the University's representatives on Boards of Examiners for supporting the external examiner in ensuring the quality and standards of the validated awards and considering course work assignments, formal assessments and examination scripts as judged appropriate in consultation with the external examiner(s). Liaison Officers are not expected to mark work;

h. serving as a member of the University's periodic review team which will review the programme in the final year of each 6 year validation period;

i. if a permanent Liaison Officer is unable to reach agreement with the appropriate staff in the Partner Organisation on any matter it should be referred to the Management Committee in the first instance. If agreement cannot be reached within the Management Committee the matter should be referred to the Quality and Standards Sub-Committee. When the matter is discussed in committee it should be the normal practice to invite representatives from the Organisation to attend;

j. Liaison Officers should take care to ensure that, at all times, they remain independent of the Partner Organisation, and therefore do not run the risk of compromising their primary role as a representative of the University. In the event of any uncertainty advice should be sought from the Academic Support Office in the first instance.

7. In addition to the above notes, it will normally be the case that:

a. Liaison Officers will liaise closely with the Academic Support Office of the University, particularly the relevant faculty support officer in the Academic Support Office, on any matter regarding the programme e.g. changes to the curriculum, staff appointments;

b. Liaison Officers should liaise closely with the administrative officer(s) and staff of the Partner Organisation responsible for the programme;

8. The duties of temporary Liaison Officers will include:

a. ensuring, in discussion with staff in the Organisation and appropriate university staff, that syllabuses, programmes of study, and schemes and methods of assessment and examination are appropriate for the named award of the University. In considering these matters, the Liaison Officer is asked to take cognisance of the need for programmes to be academically rigorous and, where appropriate, professionally relevant;

b. satisfying himself/herself that library, computing, staffing and other resources are adequate to support the proposed programme. The temporary Liaison Officer will normally be expected to submit a written report on these facilities as part of the full proposal to establish the validated partnership.

Relationship with External Examiner(s)

9. External Examiners are responsible to the University for the maintenance of academic standards of the programmes of study and have an authoritative role in relation to examinations, i.e. in moderating the final work of students and adjudicating in relation to individual cases etc.

10. The role of Liaison Officers is a broader one of supporting the External Examiner in ensuring the quality and standards of the validated awards.

11. Liaison Officers are full members of the Board of Examiners, as the Board of Examiners is appointed by Senate and is therefore a University committee. However, Liaison Officers are not expected to play a part in marking. It is their role to advise the Board of Examiners, and the University, on comparisons between standards reached by the students on the validated programme being examined, and the standards reached by students on equivalent or similar programmes offered by the University. In order to perform this role, University Liaison Officers need to have unrestricted access to students' work and to the marks awarded, both on the validated programme and on any relevant university programme.

12. External Examiners, on the other hand, have a role in moderating the marking by other members of the board, and in advising the University on the standards reached by students on equivalent or similar programmes offered elsewhere in the higher education sector.

13. Liaison Officers also have a particular role in liaising between the Partner Organisation and the University. The University expects that there will be a close liaison between External Examiners and Liaison Officers.

University Liaison Officers' Reports

14. Once a year, or more often if necessary, each permanent Liaison Officer shall provide the Quality and Standards Sub-Committee with a written report, which shall also be made available to the Partner Organisation through the Academic Support Office. This report should include an assessment of the significance of changes made to the programme during the year.

15. Report forms will be forwarded to each Liaison Officer during the summer. Copies of previous reports or blank report forms may be obtained from the Academic Support Office. The form is also available at Appendix A9.16.

Payment of University Liaison Officers

16. Liaison Officers will normally be full-time members of University staff. Except where the validation work is a contractual obligation, an Liaison Officer will normally be paid a fee of £200 in respect of the set up work involved in validating a programme. Thereafter, an annual fee will be calculated and paid on the same basis as the External Examiner's fee.

Contact Details

17. Any queries regarding validation policies and/or procedures should be directed to the relevant faculty support officer in the Academic Support Office