Standards at most Postgraduate programs, universities or schools in Britain are set very high. Standards and quality in each program are controlled in many ways. This control comes partly from the university and partly from the assurance of quality systems of various other organisations.
Quality Assurance Agency (QAA)
All schools have to meet the QAA’s standards, which gives a set of general standards for doctorates and masters programs. These standards are seen during inspection visits or audits – you can view the results on the QAA website.
Accreditation for professionals
All professional postgraduate programs have to be approved by a certain body of individuals. A marketing program would have to gain accreditation by CIM as well as lead to getting a master’s degree. Being a part of an accredited professional organisation can help one secure a job after graduation. It’s also important to know which accreditation will be important for the field you plan to go into after you graduate. To do this, all you have to do is check with a professional body in the United Kingdom or, something equal to that professional body in your country.
What are External Examiners?
External examiners set the standards by which programs are checked. They tend to be the usual staff of a school from other universities or postgraduate schools. They look at the work done by program students and write a report on the standards and quality of the work accepted by a program.
Also, universities publish information on the quality, character and nature of their degree programs on their website. This allows you to be able to search the site by program and University.
What are League tables?
Media in Britain produces performance tables that score schools and universities. These comparisons aren’t official publications because they’re made by newspapers using information from sources considered to be official.
Every newspaper makes its own table using formulas which balance a university’s facilities and achievements. It isn’t the easiest thing understand how this calculation is done. Newspapers who produce the tables often try to emphasize certain parts of a university. For instance, The Guardian’s tables tend to place very little emphasis on a specific universities achievements and income but place major emphasis on the achievements of undergraduates.
Data is not always recent either.
The score difference in most tables is usually miniscule. Meaning there is usually a very small difference among schools separated by several places. It also means that each year universities have the opportunity to move up or down by a vast amount with only a small change in their data values.
The data found in these tables contain information on research and undergraduate programs. They may not be very helpful in choosing a postgraduate program.
Now it’s possible for you to make a league table using weights you think are important. This is found on The Times newspaper website – the standard data found is still the data used in the creation of the league table for The Times.
You should look at these tables with a bit of caution and consider a bunch of them before you make a decision about a school. Schools take the creation of these tables seriously. They know that students use the information to help them choose and do their best to make sure that the data found is the best data possible. Universities found at the beginning of the list are very useful – while universities at the bottom are generally disregarded.
Assessment Exercise of Research and Institutional Audit
A few other viable sources of information can help you make decisions on a university – results received from the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) and the results of Institutional Audit by the QAA. RAE is a test run by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the Department for Employment and Learning every couple of years to determine the level of care exercised during instruction in schools. The measurements taken change every so often which is one of the reasons why it’s so difficult to make use of the information.
If you consider 2008, every school undertaking research in that field had submitted information in for the RAE was measured using a 5-point scale. This grade took into account the results of research, the research environment and other esteem indicators. This information is given using a profile which measures quality for the higher education institution presented to the UOA. The reason for this is it reduces the effect of single-point scores, which allows the readers to have a better base for judgement. This can lead to a better understanding and help funding bodies better identify high-quality research.
Below are quality levels delivered and their meanings:
4 = world leading research and of the highest rigor and quality
3 = internationally excellent research that’s original and significant. Yet, falls short of academic excellence.
2 = internationally recognised research
1 = Nationally recognised research
Unclassified = Research that’s well below the standards of nationally recognized work.
All of the latest research ratings for the RAE can be found on the RAE website
The research quality of a postgraduate program is something you want to pay attention to. Many believe that the schools with high-quality research also have the best staff, who give you with the best experience. Getting a Doctorate or a master’s degree from a school with a high rating is also typically seen as an achievement. For the most part, this is true but, not all RAE profiles can be trusted, for good reason.
Staff doesn’t always stay at the same school building and the profiles eventually become outdated.
In some schools, the academic staff spends time researching rather than teaching programs or supporting students. This can result in you being taught by a junior teaching assistant or by another research student. You could be excited to work with world-famous professors, you must double-check to make sure that this is what will happen.
Lastly, these profiles don’t tell you much about the school’s standards for teaching. This is something you must check examiner’s reports and various other sources for.