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Education Quality and Policy Office


Colleges play a central role, through the supervision system, in undergraduate teaching in the University. This page outlines the ways in which University and College teaching can be fully co-ordinated and the part that University institutions have to play with regard to their contribution to the quality assurance of College-based teaching and learning activities.

On this page:

Senior Tutors' Committee

The Senior Tutors' Committee has responsibility for ensuring that there are mechanisms for assuring the quality of the teaching and learning in Colleges. Most dialogue between the University and Colleges, and between these two and external agencies, therefore, will be through the Senior Tutors' Committee.

The Senior Tutors' Committee monitors the activities and concerns of Directors of Studies Committees through minutes received by its Standing Committee on Education.

Faculties and departments are asked to liaise with the Senior Tutors' Committee concerning any issues regarding the satisfactory co-ordination of University and College Teaching.

The role of the faculty or department

The primary elements of a faculty/department's contribution to the quality assurance of College teaching and learning activities are:

  1. Making available to Colleges access to relevant and up-to-date information about faculty teaching and learning activities that impinge on College activities (e.g. course descriptions, marking and classing guidelines, library resources, IT provision, in-house training courses, etc.). These should all be accessible via the faculty or departmental website. The following should also be circulated to Directors of Studies in good time:
    • Lists of convenors and potential supervisors for each paper, which are made available by the latter for consultation by (but not circulation to) students.
    • Booklists recommended for purchase by College libraries and details of software that should be available in Colleges.
  2. Facilitating communication between those responsible for faculty/departmental and College teaching, by:
    • Providing a clear statement of aims and objectives for all papers and courses, and adequate information in advance about examination requirements, and assessment criteria. Such statements should be helpful both to teachers and students and provide a basis for enhanced co-operation and communication with Colleges.
    • Designating where possible a University officer or officers (for example the Convenor of the Directors of Studies Committee, if a University officer) to liaise in the co-ordination of University and College teaching and advise students on teaching matters.
    • Ensuring meetings of Directors of Studies take place on a regular (normally termly) basis and providing Minutes to the Secretary of the Senior Tutors' Standing Committee on Education for note, review, and action. Template terms of reference for Directors of Studies groups are available on the Senior Tutors' Committee website.
    • Encouraging supervisors to attend relevant lectures, and training in supervision teaching. In association with Colleges, they should take necessary steps to enhance the quality of learning and teaching, e.g. by encouraging engagement with relevant in-house or Personal and Professional Development (PPD) training activities, and to encourage the use of appropriate teaching aids.
    • The regular review of issues relating to the co-ordination of University and College teaching, in consultation with Directors of Studies. This will include satisfactory arrangements for students to receive advice, and to provide feedback.
    • It is recommended that minutes, or relevant issues arising from the, are also received by Faculty Boards or Teaching Committees. There should be arrangements for College Directors of Studies to be represented or relevant faculty or departmental committees to be receiving key faculty or departmental documents such as reports of External Examiners.
  3. Giving careful consideration to the following matters concerning supervision, in consultation with Directors of Studies and the Senior Tutors' Standing Committee on Education where appropriate:
    • Adequate provision of supervision in the introduction of new or substantially revised courses.
    • Agreeing a normal number of supervisions for each course/paper after consultation with Directors of Studies to enable appropriate arrangements for all students to be established, and to make such information available to students.
    • Participating in arrangements for the allocation of supervisors to students, especially for Part II subjects, in consultation and agreement with Colleges.
    • Teaching arrangements falling around the boundary between supervisions and faculty/department teaching. In cases where there is any lack of clarity the Senior Tutors' Standing Committee on Education should be consulted.

If a faculty or department, in consultation and agreement with Colleges, takes over a role in organising and/or delivering supervisions there is then clearly a (delegated) responsibility for assuring the quality of those supervisions on the part of the faculty or department.

Training of Graduate Students who supervise undergraduates

All Graduate Students who supervise should be trained. The Education Committee and Senior Tutors' Committee have jointly issued the following guidance on how training might be provided and what should be covered.

Avenue for any concerns about College provision

If a Head of Institution becomes aware through whatever route (student feedback questionnaire, comments from staff, etc.) that some aspect of provision in a College is causing concern he or she should refer the matter in the first instance to the Director of Studies in the College. If no resolution is achieved the matter should be taken up with the Senior Tutor in that College. If the matter still cannot be resolved, the Secretary of the Senior Tutors' Committee should be informed.