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Canterbury College principal Alison Clarke promises improvement after Quality Assurance Agency report

Canterbury College is striving for a “clean bill of health” next year following a critical report from education inspectors.

The college was found to fall short of national standards within areas of its higher education provision – which is available to around 400 students.

Inspectors from the Quality Assurance Agency, the national body overseeing standards in higher education, visited the New Dover Road campus earlier this year.

Canterbury College's main campus in New Dover Road
Canterbury College's main campus in New Dover Road

While the overall quality of teaching was found to be satisfactory, the inspectors’ subsequent report highlighted a number of administrative failings.

These failings were affecting students’ “learning opportunities”, the report concluded, and required improvement to meet “UK requirements”.

According to the report, students had raised the issue of staffing changes, which had had “a detrimental impact on their learning experience.”

Students “did not find all replacements to be equally valuable, especially in regards to their industry experience,” it said.

The report also flagged up a lack “employer involvement” at the point at which the college developed its courses, noting: “The employers who met the reviewers had not been approached to contribute to programme design or provide feedback.”

Another criticism was levelled at the college’s virtual learning environment (VLE) – a password-protected website offering resources such as course handbooks, reading lists, blogs, and a student message board.

Principal Alison Clarke
Principal Alison Clarke

The report said that “…there is an aspiration [at the college] to see the VLE used as a learning tool” but that “…the team saw little evidence of such progress”.

Instead, the VLE “…is used as a repository of information and documents rather than an interactive learning tool”, said the QAA.

The college’s coursework submission process also came in for criticism.

While some students’ work was submitted electronically and subjected to a plagiarism detection system, others submitted theirs in hard copy form, said the report.

It criticised the college’s student representative system as well, saying: “The students and their representatives are unsure of their roles and, notwithstanding the availability of training; there was no evidence that student representatives were actually trained.”

Overall, the QAA concluded that the “quality of student learning opportunities” and the “quality of the information produced about its provision” both required improvement to meet UK expectations.

The “enhancement of learning opportunities” fell short of UK expectations too.

Canterbury College in New Dover Road is merging with East Kent College.
Canterbury College in New Dover Road is merging with East Kent College.

Canterbury College, with its main campus in the city as well as a subsidiary campus in Sheeness, offers both further education courses – such as A-Levels, BTECs, NVQs and certain GCSEs – and higher education courses.

Only the higher education element, which includes courses such as Higher National Diplomas (HNDs), Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and some BA and Bsc top-up degree programmes, was subject to the QAA inspection.

Canterbury College Principal Alison Clarke said: “We fell short in a series of areas, and we acknowledge this.

We have acted quickly to rectify all the points raised and are now working our way through new processes and strategies to tackle these areas.”

She said the college’s management team was working with staff and student bodies to respond to criticisms and recommendations made within the report.

”Canterbury College has invited the QAA team to return later this academic year to review its new processes and give them a clean bill of health,” Ms Clarke added.

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