"Implications of 'Dimensions of quality' in a market environment" published today

  • Date: 22-11-2012

Is the information that prospective students are getting sufficient to enable them to assess what they are likely to gain from attending a particular higher education institution?

This is one of the questions posed by Professor Graham Gibbs in his new report Implications of 'Dimensions of quality' in a market environment, published today by the Higher Education Academy (HEA), with a foreword by Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science.

The report follows up Professor Gibbs' highly influential 2010 report, Dimensions of quality, also published by the HEA. This research examined which factors, or dimensions of quality, could give a reliable indication of the quality of student learning. It found that the most important consideration is the way that institutions choose to use the resources they have available. Class size, the level of student effort, the teacher who is delivering a course or module, and the quantity and quality of feedback to students can all affect student outcomes, it said.

Professor Gibbs' new report examines how the HE community can apply the dimensions of quality he identified in 2010 to make a real difference to the student experience.

In his foreword, the Minister of State for Universities and Science welcomes the report's "valuable contribution to the debate and the challenge it provides." He continues: "Higher education in this country has never represented a single experience or learning environment. One of the great strengths of our higher education sector is its innovation and diversity. With people's lives becoming increasingly busy and complex their aspirations for learning, whether starting a career or seeking to enhance one, are increasingly diverse. New technologies and even more flexible modes and routes of study are part of the story but whatever the route of study, at its heart is teaching. Teaching - the activities of educating or instructing, activities that impart knowledge or skill - should be at the heart of our higher education sector and the mission of every higher education institution." He goes on to stress the importance of providing prospective students with a range of information so that they can make effective choices.

Professor Craig Mahoney, Chief Executive of the HEA comments in his foreword: "As a national body committed to enhancing the student learning experience, it is essential that the HEA understands, and supports others in understanding, what information students need to make the best of their time in higher education. This research will help us to do that."

Implications of 'Dimensions of quality' in a market environment is the latest piece in a programme of research commissioned and published by the HEA to provide the sector with an evidence base for policy-making in learning and teaching in higher education.