Quality Assurance at Alexander College is based on European Standards and Guidelines for Higher Education in a Student centered Environment
Quality assurance policy
Enhancing the quality of education at Alexander College is a continuous process based on the principles of a quality assurance system (ESG 2015) and the Alexander College vision and mission (https://alexander.ac.cy/about-us/institutions-mission-statement/ )The core of Alexander College’s mission is to “maintain and advance the delivery of high quality academic programmes, training opportunities and services through constant evaluation and upgrading and to continue the ever-increasing progress of a dedicated and experienced faculty through professional development and staff evaluation. Quality assurance aims at ensuring a learning environment in which the content of offered programmes, learning opportunities and facilities are fit for purpose. Quality assurance policy at Alexander College covers and reflects the interaction between teachers, students and the institutional learning environment.
After endorsement of Law 136 (I) 2015, Alexander College, by decision of the Council (November 2015), established the Internal Quality Committee, which, among others, is responsible for the “Operation of formal mechanisms for the approval, monitoring and periodic review and where necessary review of programmes and degrees offered”. The Internal Quality Committee, along with the Academic Council (both institutions are headed by the Head of Academic Affairs), have the authority to periodically review the content of teaching programmes and guide their future development.
The new provisions of the law have been incorporated into the internal regulations of the college and have been approved by the Ministry of Education’s competent authority.
The procedures of approval and operation, of review and internal evaluation of the study programmes, teaching and learning are set according to the law 67 (I) 1996-2013 and more importantly they are guided by the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in European Higher Education Area and in particular Part I which relates to the Standards and Guidelines for the Protection of Internal Quality.
The Alexander College is bound to apply article 4a of Law 136 (I)2015 and develops an internal quality evaluation policy aiming to improve the education offered.
Heading towards this direction the college prepared (2016) an updated plan for the operation and mechanisms for management and improvement.
For the internal approval and operation of a course of study that will be evaluated and certified, a thorough procedure is followed including academics, students, professionals and relevant officials in the employment industry (professional committees and bodies) based on the Alexander College strategy and educational mission.
The provisions include the evaluation and review of the content of the programme of study, based on the most recent research in order to update the programmes. The changes adapt to the needs of the society, the workload of the students and lecturers and the results of their study. It also includes the effectiveness of the students’ assessment, the expectations-needs and their satisfaction with the programme offered. The evaluation of the learning environment, as well as the support services offered.
Programmes are reviewed and revised at least every four years and especially before the formal review of the Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education, which takes place every five years, while every three years a detailed self-evaluation report is prepared by the Internal Quality Committee. Also, an assessment of the programme is carried out annually on the premises of examining the extent of coherence of the curriculum and the study load. Every single change on a programme of study is taken and adopted, taking into consideration the above criteria and is communicated officially while at the right time is published in accordance to the law.
Quality assurance system
Alexander College employs the quality assurance system in order to make improvements to the education it provides through the satisfaction of quality standards, both at the level of degrees and at the level of factors and sectors such as strategic policy, staffing policy, the organisation of teaching and learning, research policy, the deployment of resources and of student support services. The Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education framework, the ESG and ECTS User Guide for institutional and programme evaluation serve as important points of reference.
The quality assurance system at the Alexander College
The Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle (PDCA)
The PDCA approach aims to lead to quality control, quality assurance and quality improvement in a continuously changing student centered learning environment.
The cycle involves the following four steps or interlinked phases:
- Plan: establish direction and ambitions, develop and work out the details of policy in accordance with objectives, and plan activities based on a systematic analysis of the environment and the available resources
- Do: implement the planned activities
- Check: evaluate the implementation, measure the results, critically reflect on the results and compare the outcomes with the stated goals.
- Act: draw conclusions and formulate points for improvement, modify plans where necessary and/or formulate objectives for the period ahead. Once the objective has been achieved, it is important to safeguard the policy, in which case the A stands for Adapt.
Each sector or section at the Alexander College (Services/Administration, faculty, degree programme, module) has its own Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle.
Cohesion is imperative to establish all levels and functions of quality assurance works towards common goals and standards. The Alexander College vision and mission acts as the common ground, the basis for unifying levels and functions and implementing the College’s strategy.
Each organisational level within the College has at least one PDCA cycle of its own. The Foreas Agency DIPAE and the Institution’s Internal regulations, Internal Quality Assurance Committee’s guidelines broadly stipulate how the institution’s structure is arranged and the division of responsibilities. They also state who at the various levels, carries final responsibility for the quality of education and quality assurance with respect to the programmes.
The system covers:
For an individual Module
For a Degree Programme
For the Institution
The most important criteria of the system include the evaluation and review of the content of the programme of study, based on the most recent research in order to update the programmes. Further, the identification of changes to the needs of the society, the workload of the students and lecturers and the results of their study. It also involves the effectiveness of the students’ assessment, the expectations-needs and their satisfaction with the programme offered. The evaluation of the learning environment as well as the support services offered.
The Quality Assurance system is based on a framework of linked processes relating to programme design, approval, evaluation and review, the regulation of admissions and of assessment, approval of awards, etc. The internal processes reflect the following:
- Approval of awards
- Review and evaluation of programmes
- Teaching and learning
- The connection with society
- Regulations of admissions and assessment
a. Approval of awards
The Academic Board and Quality Assurance Committee have overall responsibility for the approval of awards and programmes leading to awards of the Institution whether such programmes are taught by the Institution or by another organisation operating in an approved relationship with the University.
The Academic Board has established procedures to enable proposed new awards and programmes to be approved and for the approval process to provide assurance of the standards of awards and the quality of learning and teaching.
For each award, there is an approved programme specification stating the award, award structure, curriculum, assessment regulations and other requirements as prescribed by the Academic Board.
For each module there is an approved module specification stating the module learning outcomes and the means by which these outcomes are achieved and demonstrated.
b. Review and evaluation of programmes
The system and procedure for reviewing and evaluating programmes along with the bodies / committees involved are presented in detail in Section H.3.
c. Teaching and learning
The Academic Board along with the Internal Quality Assurance Committee (IQAC), provides an effective system for the design, monitoring and revision of Programmes of Study. All programmes are aligned with the Institution’s goals and general societal needs.
The mechanisms for ensuring the quality of the learning process are presented in detail in Section F.10, while the policy and statutes for academic support are described in Section C.3.
The IQAC is responsible of holding meetings and make decisions when issues related to the quality of their student experience are raised.
To ensure the suitability of the academic staff, the IQAC has taken measures in which all prospective employees are interviewed after they deliver a demonstration of teaching. At the interview panel, an academic from the specific science/art, the human resource manager and the Dean of Academic Affairs are present. Documentation of the competence of academic and other teaching staff is kept by the IQAC and is presented in Section I.4.
The IQAC based on published criteria and incentives, has decided to further promote the faculty’s contribution to research in synergy with teaching among other reasons in order to reinforce the activities of the Research Centre. The Alexander Research Centre policy, as described in detail in Section J. (https://alexander.ac.cy/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Regulations-on-conducting-Research-at-Alexander-College.pdf, https://alexander.ac.cy/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Research-Excellence-Framework.pdf ) has provided a number of incentives for the promotion of research initiatives.
e. The connection with society
In the design and revision of programmes, the Course Committee seeks complementary input from internal and external sources.
For the internal approval and operation of a course of study that will be evaluated and certified, a thorough procedure is followed including academics, professionals and relevant officials in the employment industry based on the Alexander College strategy and educational mission.
f. Regulations of admissions and assessment
All information relating to any programme of study is posted publicly, including the admissions requirements, as well as the format and procedures for student assessment.
Please see Section F.8 and H.5 for the admissions regulations and transfer of credits policy.
The provisions of the IQAC also involve an internal moderation to increase the effectiveness of the students’ assessment process. All regulations regarding the assessment strategies, grading, compensation etc. are presented in detail in the Alexander College’s Manual (p.19).
System and evaluation criteria of students
Evaluation of student performance is an integral part of students’ learning experience. Both summative and formative forms of evaluation are used in the college. Formative evaluation is where the evaluation constitutes a learning experience in its own right and is usually not included in the formal grading of the work. Summative evaluation is usually undertaken at the end of a period of learning (although it can also be during the period of learning), in order to generate a grade that reflects each student’s performance.
The purpose of evaluation is to determine whether a student has met the objectives and learning outcomes set for programmes and courses and has achieved the standard required of the course or of the overall programme. The evaluation of a student’s performance must accord with the evaluation regulations stated in the programme and course specifications / descriptors.
The college’s policy governing the evaluation of students is based on the following principles:
- Evaluation is an integral part of a dynamic learning and teaching process and not separated from it.
- Evaluation plays a key part in the rigorous setting and maintaining of academic standards.
- All students are entitled to parity of treatment.
- Progression is achieved by credit accumulation and the completion of pre-requisites and co-requisites.
- Attention is paid to the evaluation requirements of professional bodies.
- Different course learning outcomes should be recognised by and reflected in different forms of evaluation.
- Explicit criteria against which student performance is evaluated should be available to students in advance of their evaluation.
- All students should be afforded maximum opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, competencies and overall strengths through a variety of evaluation activities.
- All students are consulted and kept fully informed about expectations, processes and the outcomes of evaluation.
- All methods used to evaluate student performance are fair and fit for purpose.
- The evaluation process is carried out by appropriately qualified and competent staff.
The college is responsible for:
- Undertaking the evaluation of students in accordance with the evaluation regulations of the programme or course.
- Providing invigilation for examinations undertaken in the college in accordance with procedures.
- Publishing the results of students’ evaluations relating to their progress to programme completion.
- Issuing marks to students individually.
- Investigating allegations of evaluation offences in accordance with procedures approved by the Internal Quality Assurance Committee.
- Issuing evaluation regulations and requirements including timetables for examinations, instructions to candidates taking evaluations or examinations under controlled conditions and dates and any requirements for submission of evaluated work.
A student shall be individually responsible for:
- Reading information issued to students on evaluation arrangements, attending examinations and submitting work for evaluation in the manner and at the time required.
- Undertaking evaluations in a manner which does not seek to gain unfair advantage.
- Ascertaining results as published by the college.
Evaluation is the means by which standards are confirmed in terms of an individual student’s performance against agreed evaluation criteria, set to measure the achievement of learning outcomes at each level.
Quality indicators for Programmes of Studies and their monitoring
The essence of Periodic Review is critical reflection upon a number of key indicators of quality assurance and enhancement (see https://alexander.ac.cy/about-us/internal-quality-assurance-background/) based on European Standards and Guidelines, ECTS Users’ Guide and in accordance to the benchmarks of The Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education (DI.P.A.E.). The emphasis of the process is upon evaluation and enhancement of student achievement of the appropriate academic standards and of the learning opportunities offered to students so that they are able to achieve those academic standards.
As already underlined, Programmes are reviewed and revised at least every four years and especially before the review from the Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education, which takes place every five years, while every three years a detailed report is prepared by the Internal Evaluation Quality Committee. Every single change at a programme of study is taken and adopted, taking into consideration the criteria/indicators and is communicated officially while at the right time is published in accordance to the law.
For the internal approval and operation of a course of study that will be evaluated and certified and the annual monitoring of an existing programme, a thorough procedure is followed including academics, professionals and relevant officials in the employment industry (professional committees and bodies), students all based on the Alexander College strategy and educational mission. The Review team (4.3) more specifically, consists of representatives from the academics and Professional/Technical Services staff who contribute to the delivery of the programme, collaborative partners (where appropriate), students and Academic Services. Membership of the review team can be extended to include specialists from outside the Faculty/Programme whose role would be to contribute reflection on specific aspects of the provision, for instance; technology enhanced learning, sustainability, internationalisation, employability or work-based learning.
Quality Indicators for programmes of Studies are the following:
a. The extent to which a programme responds to the Institution’s mission and academic goals
All programmes of study must be in accordance to Alexander College’s missions and goals, as these are explicated in the Institution’s Manual.
b. Meeting societal needs
Introduction of new programmes and sustainability of already existing programmes are aligned with general societal needs. For the internal approval and operation of a course of study that will be evaluated and certified, a thorough procedure is followed including professionals and relevant officials in the employment industry.
c. The cohesion and functionality of the programme of study
Programmes are reviewed and revised at least every four years, while every three years a detailed report is prepared by the Internal Quality Assurance Committee. Programmes are normally evaluated every five years. Issues regarding the cohesion and functionality of any programme of study are discussed and resolved during the Internal Quality Assurance Committee meetings.
d. The admissions and assessment system
Specific policies have been established and made available publicly, ensuring high quality in the processes of admissions and assessment.
The monitoring body for this quality indicator, in collaboration with the IQAC, is the Office of Admissions.
Please see Section F.8 and H.5 for the admissions regulations and transfer of credits policy.
All regulations regarding the assessment strategies, grading, compensation etc. are presented in detail in Alexander College’s Manual (p.19).
e. Teaching effectiveness
The Institution’s aim is to recruit academic staff with both experience in the education as well as the professional industry.
To ensure the suitability of the academic staff, the IQAC has taken measures in which all prospective employees are interviewed after they deliver a demonstration of teaching. At the interview panel an academic from the specific science/art, the human resource manager and the Dean of Academic Affairs are present.
The IQAC has developed a Student Survey document for evaluating teaching performance.
f. Learning outcomes
Student progress demonstration is an important parameter to assessing the internal quality of a programme of study. The mechanisms for ensuring the quality of the learning process are presented in detail in Section F.10.
The IQAC has established a policy where all full time employees should sign a contract with which they should agree to publish a specific number of papers (conference and/or journal) in order to reinforce the activities of the Research Center.
New research results are embodied in the content of the relevant programme of study.
The Alexander College Research Center policy, as described in detail in Section J. has provided a number of incentives for the promotion of research initiatives and it is considered the main monitoring body in collaboration with the IQAC.
h. Administrative Services
The IQAC is responsible for the development of policies, procedures, and other support necessary to improve quality of administrative services.
Student Affairs is the main monitoring body in collaboration with the IQAC.
For information regarding the policies and statutes for academic and financial support, as well as the Institution’s counseling services; see Sections C.3, C.4 and C.5.
As demonstrated above, the body responsible for monitoring all Quality Indicators of the Institution is the IQAC with collaboration with other internal committees and departments, external partners and administrative or academic staff members when considered necessary.
Quality assurance in relation to learning resources
Quality, as defined by the ESG (2015) is mainly a result of the interaction between teachers, students and the institutional learning environment. Quality assurance aims to ensure a learning environment in which the content of programmes, learning opportunities and facilities are fit for purpose.
All courses are taught in high quality, purpose-built classrooms fully equipped with digital media resources. Many of these are specialist spaces designed to support students effectively by providing a tailor-made learning environment. We place a strong emphasis on the opportunities offered through information learning technologies and many subjects expect the student to extend learning through a digital resource bank of materials – accessible at any time – to supplement and enhance classroom learning experience.
A high-quality teaching and learning environment is possible if it is embraced by high-quality teaching facilities. The long-term strategic educational policy is in coherence with other central policies such as finance (including for learning resources), staffing and communications. Quality assurance of resources for building an inspiring learning environment is supported through the financial planning and control cycle which involves the budget, the half-yearly report and the Annual Report/Annual Statement of Accounts. The Dean of Academic Affairs in cooperation with the Programme Leaders are responsible for shaping the learning environment by advising the Board about necessary resources. Overall the Academic Board and the Internal Quality Assurance Committee (see Internal Regulation) are responsible for considering the development of the academic activities of the College and the resources needed to support them. The process begins with a report by the Programme team. Each Programme of study annually initiates (led by the coordinator and with the participation of the teaching staff of each programme) the internal evaluation of the curriculum and the overall programme. Key criteria for assessment are research developments and societal needs, synergy and interaction with industry professionals. The report also pays attention to adequate learning facilities based on contemporary advances, new industry specifications when necessary and professional practices. External Evaluation offers an impartial insight which enlightens focus on quality learning through recommendations.
Learning resources may include technology, Virtual Learning Environment, (https://aristotle.alexander.ac.cy/login/index.php) library, inspiring buildings and learning resources facilities.
Our College’s Student Survey (SES) and other Surveys help us collect (twice a year) feedback on the student experience for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Results are filtered and analysed to identify necessary improvements to facilities and resources, services and learning strategies.
Quality assurance and control of the learning process
The quality assurance system embraces all the fundamental functions and sectors of the College’s activities. It includes monitoring, internal and external quality reviews and students’ feedback to enhance the learning process and to design and check learning outcomes and competences the attainment of which is instrumental in a learning process.
The Academic Board and the Internal Quality Committee are in charge of the supervision of the learning process, the appointment and removal of internal and external examiners, policies and procedures for assessment and examination of the academic performance of students; the content of the curriculum; academic standards and the validation and review of courses; the procedures for the award of qualifications and honorary academic titles. The ownership of Internal Quality assurance of the learning process is purely academic.
The criteria center around the Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education (published) quality indicators are also situated in the context of The European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area. Indicators include (among many other) high dropout or failure rates or longer completion times. A student-centered system of high-quality demands annual monitoring in order to identify noteworthy variations in patterns of achievement and results gained and follows up with appropriate revision. Students are promptly provided with information and consultation (mentoring) so that they can follow progression rules, appropriate pathways and specialisations and select educational components at a suitable level for their qualification.
Students are actively engaged in relevant internal assessment through participation in ad hoc or permanent committees and by assessing teaching and learning, resources and services at the end of each semester and the programme of studies.
Quality assurance and student resources
Success in future careers and in higher education largely depends on the ability to be independent and adaptable. Students at Alexander College are given guidance on study skills and independent access to resources and facilities which support their development of skills towards successful progression at programme level or to continue at a postgraduate level and into the labour market.
Learning is an exciting venture and the staff is offering a range of learning experiences including
- One-to-one formative feedback discussions to student-led debates
- Collaborating on a shared workspace
- Extended practical research
- Contributing to presentations, shows-exhibitions and installations
In a student centred learning environment, the deployment of student resources is crucial. Student resources are linked to quality objectives.
The following resources are provided at Alexander College
Building and classrooms
The College spreads through four floors, covering an area of over 3000 square metres, with wireless Internet facilities in all areas and fully air-conditioned throughout. Purpose built design, interior architecture and photographic studios add to the value of the courses. Computer labs, an auditorium, lecture rooms equipped with digital presentation facilities, a library and resources centre, Internet stations, administration and faculty offices, a modern refectory and a relaxing roof garden completes the scene.
- books and publication subscriptions;
- online database subscriptions;
- AV and media equipment;
- powerful computing facilities
- study rooms
- networked computers and specialist software for each subject area
- the student intranet, My Alexander College; an online source of information
- Moodle and VLE; an online learning management tool and resource for lecture notes and interactive teaching
- Central support from our technical team.
Financial Trading Room
Trading and Crypto Platforms
Access to Asset Management baskets and portfolios, plus access to Research Reports.
Games-Design and Research Room
Wacom Pro Tablets
Lego Mind storm
Policy and process of preventing and dealing with plagiarism
Credit must be given, and reference must be made to concepts and ideas of authors of papers, including publications on the internet. Although you may interpret these ideas and concepts, you should not just repeat them verbatim, as this would be treated as ‘Plagiarism’. Plagiarism is a serious offence in any academic institution, and the consequences to individuals who are found guilty of it reflect this fact.
URKUND is a plagiarism avoidance and detection software. The Alexander College has introduced URKUND in a supportive and educative way. It is intended to support students in their avoidance of plagiarism and to support staff in their detection and prevention of it. Students are asked to submit their work to URKUND, where it will be compared to millions of current and archived web pages, published journal articles, papers, books and to work submitted by other students. Following this initial submission, students will be able to look at the Originality Report produced showing where similarities to other work have been detected. Following their first submission, students can amend their own work if needed and resubmit it in order to gain more feedback from a revised Originality Report. Further guidance on how to register for the service, submit their work and interpret the Originality report is available on Moodle.
The incorporation of material without formal and proper acknowledgement (even with no deliberate intent to cheat) can constitute plagiarism.
Work may be considered to be plagiarized if it consists of:
- a direct quotation
- a close paraphrase
- an unacknowledged summary of a source
- a direct copying or transcription
With regard to the written reports the rule is: if information or ideas are obtained from any source, that source must be acknowledged according to the appropriate convention in that discipline; and any direct quotation must be placed in quotation marks and the source cited immediately. Any failure to acknowledge adequately or to cite other sources properly in submitted work is plagiarism. Under examination conditions, material learnt by rote or close paraphrase will be expected to follow the usual rules of reference citation, otherwise it will be considered as plagiarism.
In addition, special cases of plagiarism can arise from a student using his or her own previous work (termed auto-plagiarism or self-plagiarism). Auto-plagiarism includes using work that has already been submitted for assessment at this College or for any other academic award. In order to avoid auto-plagiarism, students should not use the same work for two different pieces of assessment, nor should they draw heavily on coursework in their dissertation. In the case of the latter, students can use the same data – statistics for instance – where it is relevant and possibly unavoidable and cite the original sources. If students would like to repeat conclusions they reached or views / opinions expressed in previous work and these are brief, they can quote themselves and cite the coursework as the source.
Student grievance procedures
Our Institution welcomes all feedback, both positive and negative, and considers complaints and grievances to be a valuable source of information enabling us to improve services and enhance the student experience. The Academic Board has established procedures for dealing with complaints from students about any academic matter related to admissions, teaching and learning provision on award routes or modules or any academic matters relating to the provision for supervised research.
1. Admissions Appeal
If following receipt of feedback, an applicant feels an error has occurred, they can request a formal review of the selection decision on one of the following grounds:
- Pertinent information was missing from the original application;
- There has been a misinterpretation of information or data contained within the original application;
- There was a procedural anomaly in the handling of the application;
- That there is evidence of prejudice or bias on the part of the Institution.
The request for a review must be made in writing to the Head of Admissions, and should be received within 28 calendar days of the provision of feedback. On receipt of a request, the Head of Admissions will review the application, referring to relevant admissions staff where appropriate, and will respond in writing within 28 calendar days. It is expected that these deadlines will be adhered to, however in exceptional circumstances the time periods may need to be extended, either for the applicant or the Admissions Office. The applicant will be informed in writing of the outcome of the appeal and given an explanation for the decision which has been reached.
2. Assessment Appeal
If following their official results release a student feels that the marking or examining board process has not been followed correctly they have the right to make an appeal.
Students have a maximum of 10 working days after their results are released to submit an appeal. If there is a basis for these grievances, precedents that have been set by previous decisions on academic appeals will be reviewed, or the case will be referred to the Academic Board.
The Academic Board may decide that the grounds for review have been established and agree the action to be taken in relation to the appellant’s academic profile in light of the appeal, or reject the appeal.
A complaint made in respect of an award route, module or supervised research shall be made whilst the study is in progress.
In all cases the original outcome shall be final and not varied until and unless a successful appeal results in an alternative decision. For example, where a student is excluded due to academic failure, the student shall not be reinstated until the appeal process is complete and the outcome of the appeal results in an amendment of the original decision.
Changes made to decisions as a result of an appeal must be approved by the Chair of the relevant examining board and recorded as an addendum to the minutes.