One of the UK’s most significant higher education ‘alternative providers’ has been commended for its commitment to enhancing the learning opportunities of students. The commendation for GSM London comes in the report of a review carried out by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), the body that assesses the quality of provision in higher education institutions in the UK. In addition to the commendation, the QAA reports that GSM London meets expectations in all areas of academic standards and quality and identifies three areas of particularly good practice.
The QAA report commends GSM London for taking a strategic approach to embedding enhancement of student learning opportunities across every area. It outlines how the College has “a clearly articulated and well-defined enhancement plan” with reviewers finding that “staff involvement across the College is evident from their awareness of enhancement priorities and their apparent enthusiasm for addressing them.”
The report highlights several examples of GSM London’s strategic approach to enhancing learning opportunities for students. It praises how “the College has been embedding employability-related activities in its taught curriculum and extra-curricular activities in a controlled and systematic fashion”. It also hails the success that the College is achieving with its ‘Flying Start’ programme, which provides additional support for students at the beginning of their studies.
Professor Amanda Blackmore, President and Chief Executive Officer at GSM London, said:
“The QAA’s commendation is testament to the excellent work that GSM London staff does every day. GSM London is firmly committed to our students which is why we make enhancement of learning opportunities a clear strategic priority. We are delighted that the QAA reviewers have recognised the value of our approach and the enthusiasm with which it is embraced across the College.”
In addition to the commendation for GSM London’s work to enhance student learning opportunities, the QAA identified good practice in relation to:
- The strategic approach to teaching based on the widespread use of active learning and the identification of students' strengths, which supports their personal and professional development.
- The active development of an academic community committed to forming approaches to teaching practice which engage and support student learning.
- The strategically-planned and embedded approach to the enhancement of student learning opportunities.
Professor Amanda Blackmore added:
“Our mission to widen participation in higher education means that we have a student body unlike any other. Our students have often overcome significant levels of adversity in their lives. Many have direct experience of dealing with prejudice, stereotyping or other forms of discrimination.
“This is why we are pioneering new approaches to teaching and learning that acknowledge and build on the personal characteristics and life experiences of our students. The QAA’s acknowledgement of this work as an example of good practice is a strong affirmation of how GSM London is adding real value to the UK’s higher education sector. “
The QAA report also remarks on how GSM London students are engaged in enhancement programmes, highlighting a number of structured representation schemes and ways in which the student voice is embedded into governance structures.
Elliot Cox, President of the GSM London Student Union, said:
“GSM London is a real community where students and staff are working together to build a unique learning environment. Students play a huge role in influencing priorities at GSM London, with plenty of opportunities to make their voices heard. We’re proud of our College and pleased that the QAA has recognised the good work that goes on here.”