An institution that is undergoing a visit for definitive Operating Agreement, institutional audit or subject review may nominate a member or members of staff (normally no more than three) to take on the role of institutional facilitator.
For definitive agreement and institutional audit visits the Director of Academic Quality would normally be one of the institutional facilitators. For subject review a senior member of academic staff from the faculty being reviewed may be more appropriate. The purpose of this role is to provide effective liaison between the auditor/reviewers and the institution and its staff, and to ensure that the auditor/reviewers obtain accurate and comprehensive information about the institution.
Staff who are nominated to act as institutional facilitators should:
Have been trained by the National Council for Higher Education and be on the Council’s Register of Auditors, Facilitators and External Examiners;
Have a thorough knowledge of the structure, policies, priorities, procedures and practices of their institution;
Extensive knowledge and experience of working in higher education;
Extensive experience of quality assurance procedures;
Be bilingual in spoken and written French and English;
(For Subject Review) qualifications and experience in a subject area being reviewed;
An ability to maintain confidentiality.
It is preferable that the facilitator(s) are either senior members of academic staff or a senior administrator or manager. (Note the Dean of the Faculty and/or Heads of Academic Departments that are involved in a subject review may not act as facilitator).
The Chair of the Panel is responsible for the organisation and management of the review. The institution is primarily responsible for ensuring that the panel is provided with appropriate evidence to allow it to reach judgements. The facilitator’s role is to ensure that the channels of communication between the two work effectively. Discussions between the institutional facilitator and the Panel Chair should ensure that the institution is aware of the issues being addressed by the auditors/reviewers and the evidence needed to help them reach judgements.
Throughout the visit the institutional facilitator helps the panel to come to a clear and accurate understanding of the structures , policies and procedures of the institution, and the nature of the provision under scrutiny. The institutional facilitator is not a member of the panel and will not make judgements about the provision.
The role requires the institutional facilitator to observe objectively, to communicate clearly with the panel to respect protocols on confidentiality outlined below, and to establish effective relationships with the Panel Chair and the team. Institutional facilitators should refrain from acting as advocates for the institution but they may legitimately:
• Assist the institution in understanding issues of concern to the panel members;
• Respond to requests for information and comment;
• Draw the panel members’ attention to matters that they may have overlooked;
• Identify the location of evidence;
• Provide advice on matters relating to the operation of the institution.
Activities preceding the Visit to the Institution
Institutions may find it helpful to involve institutional facilitators’ in preparing for the visit. The institutional facilitator should take responsibility for the preparation of the base room and ensuring that all those required to be involved during the visit are fully briefed and available at the times required.
Activities During the Visit
The institutional facilitator should be available to work with the panel for the duration of the visit.
They are responsible for:
• Preparing the base room;
• Organising the scheduled meetings;
• Arranging for visits to various parts of the institution as the panel may request;
• (For subject review) making the arrangements for the observation of teaching as requested by the panel;
• Getting such additional information as the panel may request during the visit.
Institutional facilitators may attend the following:
• All meetings of the panel except those at which judgements are being discussed;
• Formal meetings held between the panel members and the institution to investigate matters specific to quality and standards, except those with current and former students;
• Meetings held between the panel and members of the institutions staff.
Institutional facilitators will observe the same conventions of confidentiality as panel members. In particular no information gained during a visit should be used in a manner that allows individuals to be identified. Institutional facilitators may take notes when they are present at meetings to help them brief staff on the subjects being addressed by the panel.