Access to HE for Admissions Tutors
If you are an admissions tutor considering applications from learners who are studying an Open Awards Access to HE Diploma, and have any questions, we will be more than happy to help you.
Please contact Katherine Wales, our Access to HE Customer Service Officer, by email at Katherine.firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 0151 494 4361.
Frequently asked Questions
There are different areas of consideration that the lead moderator might like to see. Please see the list below:
- Evidence of a permanent main base in the UK.
- Premises are adequate to support the scope and mode of delivery proposed for the anticipated number of learners.
- Premises are suitable for securing important documents and essential administration.
- There is a single named point of accountability for the quality assurance and management of Access to HE provision.
- There are clear arrangements for the day to day operational management and coordination of Access to HE Courses.
- There are management procedures in place to ensure that, during periods of staff absence, learners’ courses are not disrupted.
Facilities and Resources
- Appropriate to the planned learning and assessment requirements of the Diplomas that are to be delivered.
- Appropriate to support all identified modes of delivery.
- Provide access to learning support for those learners identified as requiring it.
- Facilities appropriate to the needs of adults and Access to HE learners.Staffing
- An appropriate number of staff is employed to support the delivery and quality assurance of the proposed courses for the anticipated number of learners.
- Those employed to deliver Access to HE courses are appropriately qualified, professionally competent, and have the required subject expertise for the proposed diploma courses.
- There is an induction process and staff handbook available for all staff new to Access to HE delivery and assessment.
- There is a commitment to on-going staff development and attendance at Open Awards training, standardisation and Access Forum events.
- There is a single named point of accountability for the timely administration of courses, to include registration of learners and recommendation of award of credit to learners.
- There is a single named contact with responsibility for the timely distribution of certificates to learners.
- There is a single named contact for finance with responsibility for prompt payment of all invoices to Open Awards.
Access to HE Diploma Development
- There is a single named signatory for authorising any proposed new Diploma Course. (This should normally be the person named above with responsibility for Curriculum Development.)
- There is a clear and systematic internal process in place for the approval of the development of new Access to HE Diplomas in response to identified need.
- New Diplomas are developed using the Access to HE Regional Programme Unit Bank with new units/ modules only being added where the AVA accepts that there is an identified need.
- New Diploma Courses are developed only after consultation with potential receiving HEIs.
- New Diploma Courses are developed in line with the current Rules of Combination as set out by Open Awards for the relevant Pathway.
- Due consideration is given to the relevance and coherence of the selected modules / units and to their appropriateness as a preparation for the identified progression routes.
- Due consideration is given to how the appropriate academic skills, including core skills, relevant to the identified progression route will be provided. (In some cases this may require the identification of any specific entry requirements for the Diploma.)
- Where additional requirements exist for progression to a particular professional body, these are made explicit to learners.Recruitment of Learners
- There is a clearly identified target group for each Diploma course the organisation intends to offer.
- There are effective ways of recruiting from the identified target group.
- Any promotional material which is produced complies with the QAA and Open Awards guidelines on the use of their logos.
- Any promotional material makes it explicit that the award of the Diploma does not provide guaranteed entry to UK HE programmes.
Initial Advice and Guidance
- All potential learners have an entitlement to an initial advice and guidance service to ensure the suitability of the course for their chosen progression route.
- Public information provided about Access to HE courses is current and accurate.
- Clear information is published on any entry requirements that may be in place for particular Diplomas.
- There is clear information provided to potential learners in relation to the commitment expected of them in terms of :
- the duration of the course;
- course requirements including any attendance requirements;
- mode of delivery;
- fees, including any payment models;
- other potential costs;
- assessment policies;
- successful completion criteria.
On-course Advice, Guidance and Support
- There is an induction process in place for all learners, which includes an induction pack.
- There is access for learners to resources and advice on the selection of appropriate HE progression routes.
- There is support for learners in completing their HE application process.
- The organisation is committed to providing full and accurate references to support learner applications as appropriate during the course.
- There is a systematic process in place to provide learners with on-going and documented tutorial support including end of course advice as appropriate.
Assessment Practice and Records of Learner Achievement
- The Centre is able to demonstrate that the conduct of assessment and the application of assessment regulations is thorough, rigorous and fair.
- The centre offers fair and valid assessment practice in line with the Open Awards’ Assessment in Access to HE Policy, including use of all mandatory documentation.
- All staff understand and are able to conform with the QAA Grading Model as published on their web site www.accesstohe.ac.uk/publications
- Staff are competent in producing high quality assessment materials that are appropriate to the level and target group.
- Tasks are sufficiently challenging to allow for the differentiation of learners in line with the grading model.
- The assessment strategies comply with the AVAs requirements to include an observed assessment in each module delivered regardless of the delivery mode.
- The assessment strategy employed is appropriate to the needs of the target group and prepares learners for progression to HE.
- The AVA mandatory documentation to support assessment planning is used consistently.
- Learners receive full and timely feedback on the outcomes of assessment, in line with the QAA regulations.
- The AVA mandatory documentation to support the recording of the outcomes of assessment are used consistently and made available to moderators.
- There are systems in place to ensure that all assessment records are securely stored, in a manner which makes them available to managers in the event of tutor/assessor absence.
Internal Quality Assurance of Assessment Practice
- There is a robust IV policy in place which conforms to Open Awards’ published requirements.
- There is a published calendar of IV activity made available to all staff, and to the AVA’s moderators.
- All IV activity is recorded using the AVA’s mandatory documentation.
- Outcomes of IV are stored securely in an IV file which is made available to the external moderator.
- Outcomes of IV are shared at course team meetings and action plans are produced and monitored through to completion.
- Internal standardisation opportunities are available for all staff.
- Systems are in place for eliciting and responding to student evaluation and feedback on the assessment process and these are used to bring about continuous improvement.
Course Monitoring and Review
- Systems are in place for regular monitoring and review of All Access to HE Provision.
- Systems are in place for eliciting and responding to student evaluation and feedback, and these contribute to the course review process.
- Outcomes of review are used to contribute to course development.
- Outcomes of review are used to contribute to continuous quality improvement including the identification of any staff development needs.
- Outcomes of review are used to inform the Centre Annual Report to the AVA.
- The Centre Annual Report to the AVA is completed and returned annually to the AVA in a timely manner by an appropriate manager.
External Quality Assurance
- Systems are in place to allow access for external moderators as requested.
- All tutors have a copy of the Open Awards Guidance for Providers on the conduct of external moderation.
- Any appropriate documentation requested to support external moderation will be made available in a timely and efficient manner.
- Recommendations for the Award of Credit are accurately completed by the date of final pathway moderation.
- The organisation is aware of its responsibilities for conducting the Final Awards Board to the published timescales and agenda.
The Internal Verification Form has a series of questions.
Has the assignment brief been accurately completed for each separate assignment?
- Check the spelling of the Diploma title
- Check details of the unit (title, code, level and credit value etc.) against the Unit of Assessment
- Check the accuracy of the learning outcomes (LOs) and associated assessment criteria.
Have all of the approved grade descriptors (GD) and GD components been applied appropriately to the planned assignment(s)?
- Only the GDs published on the Unit of Assessment may be used
- Each GD should be used at least once
- GD 7 (Quality) must be used for each separate assignment
- GDs may be used more than once in different assignments.
- Check to make sure that GDs are entered in full, e.g. 1 – Understanding of the subject; 7 – Quality, etc. and not only the GD number.
- Check that the GD components used are those published in the QAA Grading scheme handbook (Section B) [Link]
- Check that the GD components used for the merit and distinction sections match
- Where guidance notes have been used in the GD section, check that this is just guidance and does not prompt learners or make the assignment unduly straight forward (see question C)
Do(es) the planned assignment(s) address all of the assessment criteria (AC) for this unit and provide opportunity for differentiation?
- Each LO and the associated AC should be assessed only once (i.e. in one assignment)
- All the LOs and associated AC must be assessed
- Questions or tasks should allow for differentiation of learners’ performance at pass, merit and distinction level in relation to the GDs attached to each assignment
Is it clear which parts of the assignment(s) relate to which LOs and their associated AC and to which GDs?
- Is it possible to cross-reference specific tasks, questions or parts of the assignment to different LOs, AC and GDs?
- Transparency in this area is important for the learners (so they know what they have to do and to make the assessment fair – see question I.) Transparency also makes the assessment process easier and is likely to result in greater standardisation in grading.
If assignment(s) are divided into discrete tasks is it clear how submission deadlines and resubmissions will be managed?
- Where it is intended that an assignment be completed over a period of time and if different parts of the assignment (e.g. tasks) are to be handed in (and marked) at different times, then it should be clear how deadlines and extensions are to be managed.
- If there is insufficient clarity about the application of deadlines and extensions, this may be an indication that tasks should be distributed among two or more separate assignments.
Is/are the assignment(s) valid for assessing achievement of this unit and are they appropriate to the level and credit value of the unit?
- There should be a clear match between the expectations of the assignment and the level of the unit. This can only be judged by those with appropriate and current subject expertise.
- The credit value for the unit should be reflected in the time taken for a typical learner to complete the assignment. The only general guidance here related to the link between credit value and nominal learning hours. Three credits represents 30 hours of (teaching), learning and assessment for a typical learner.
If more than one assignment is planned is the balance of AC and grade descriptors applied to each assessment appropriate?
- If more than one assignment is to be used and having considered question F above, check the balance of the assignments.
- The demands of the LOs, AC and GDs should be reflected in the demands of each assignment. For example a strategy where one assignment has 3 LO’s 7 AC and 3 GDs attached and the other has only 1 AC and 3GDs attached is unbalanced and is likely to lead to inflation of grades.
Will any part of the assignment(s) be used to assess a different unit; if so is it clear which parts of the assignment relate to each unit?
- Where an assignment, or part of an assignment, is to be used to assess LOs from two or more different units, then:
- The assignment should be listed in the TA1 for both units
- There should be a separate briefing and cover sheet (TA2A) for each unit even though there may be a single assignment brief
- The assignment brief should make it clear how the submitted assignment will provide evidence for each unit and their associated GDs, e.g. by cross-referencing to the LOs, AC and GDs of each unit.
- If there is insufficient clarity about the contribution an assignment makes to the assessment of more than one unit, this may be an indication that the use of the assignment in the assessment strategy for the different units identified is inappropriate.
Are there issues around accessibility or equality and diversity that need to be addressed in the design of the planned assignment(s)?
- Is the language used in the assignment(s) clear and likely to be accessible to all learners? Please pay particular attention to the use of technical or subject specific language and terminology and to cultural references that are not directly related to the content of the unit.
- Is the assessment strategy accessible in terms of the physical and practical demands placed on learners and the use of specialist equipment and/or technology?
- Check that the assignment strategy is not constructed in such a way as to give advantage to or disadvantage particular learners because of their origins and background, assuming that all learners will have had a similar learning experience from the provider.
- Check that the language used and the requirements of specific assessment tasks are not likely to cause offense to a learner, or group of learners, because of their ethnic or cultural origin, religious faith, gender or sexual orientation.