Clarity of the Focus of the Research:
There is growing awareness in UK HE of the need to be clear on the status and content of that part of the student contract that relates to the academic provision by a student’s HEI. In future it is highly likely that an industry wide standard form student contract will be adopted in England and Wales; such a contract will need to meet the requirements of key legislation impacting on this SCTE such as the Consumer Rights Act 2015, The Higher Education Research Act 2017 and Equality legislation. All parties to this SCTE will be keen to avoid expensive, adversarial and time-consuming litigation and having in place a ‘tracked’ account of how contractual tuition promises were met and discharged will be commercially sensible. The evidential value of TEL tools as legal compliance tools in the ‘digital’ university is set to increase.
Recent case law such as Siddiqui v University of Oxford [2018] and further afield Asenbeck v Malardalen University [2018] have shone the spotlight on the need for education to be of ‘high-quality’ that meets standards of professional skill and care. The lead author referred herself to the USW complaints investigating team for the assessment of how well the TEL tools performed in relation to standard mock student complaints and disputes related to high-quality tuition and educational standards. This research will share both legal and practical examples of how to mitigate and amicably resolve complaints relating to high-quality tuition or tuition that fails to meet standards of skill and care.
Originality of the research:
The research is two-fold, firstly how if at all the selective TEL tools (comprising three projects namely, MCQ assessment, lecture capture and selective collaborative learning tools) support a ‘high-quality’ academic journey for USW students studying construction/business law in the School of Engineering. Secondly, the extent to which the TEL tools can be relevant and admissible ‘digital evidence’ capable of evidencing compliance with the SCTE. The research investigates the increasing demands on the HEI to be more transparent and accountable in respect of promises made in relation to expected tuition and the extent to which TEL tools provide a mechanism to evidence this. Already, large legal firms are teaming up with universities to develop Tech tools to support and regulate compliance duties. Being ahead of the curve in relation to future technology which will be used for accountability purposes will avoid unnecessary and unwarranted complaints and costly litigation. The question to be answered in this research is how well the selective TEL tools for discussion in this research are capable of fulfilling this brief.
Rigour of the research: A research thesis by portfolio with project focus tracks a different journey to a traditional PhD thesis. The primary data in relation to the three projects collected between, 2010-2019 is available prior to the collection of secondary data and the research questions were checked for validity against 4 mini-literature review chapters. These chapters covered TEL generally and how well the TEL tools in the three projects were represented in the wider academic community. The research also included a detailed review of the SCTE itself and the duties and responsibilities that are reflected in this contract, accountability was rated on a legal liability matrix which ranged from moral duties with little legal redress to legally enforceable duties and finally a mini chapter on ‘digital evidence’ and the legal status of the TEL tools as admissible, relevant evidence that could support or defend actions both internally and in a court of law. Adopting an action research framework was favoured to deliver more credible and authenticated evidence. Necessary ethical approvals were obtained at various points in the research process and updated to meet changing demands post GDPR.

Significance of the research for education practice, policy or theory: The research conducted should deliver real value in terms of how TEL use can help HEIs to disprove unwarranted claims by students, in encouraging greater responsibility by students for their own learning and informing academics on the need to be clear on their duties whilst acting vicariously on behalf of their HEI. Focussing on the TEL tools as ‘accountability’ tools to evidence legal compliance of duties attracts both positive and negative viewpoints and will invite further research on their continued viability and fairness. The research has tackled complex and uncomfortable legal issues whilst at the same time providing sensible and fair options for resolving such problems amicably for key stakeholders responsible for performing the SCTE.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventBERA 2019 Annual Conference - University of Manchester
Duration: 10 Sep 201912 Sep 2019

Conference

ConferenceBERA 2019 Annual Conference
Period10/09/1912/09/19

ID: 3579598