Spotlight on ELIR: Draft Reflective Analysis

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This is the sixth post in the ‘Spotlight on ELIR’ series, which will chart the Enhancement-led Institutional Review (ELIR) that will be taking place in autumn 2020. In this post, Professor Tina Harrison (Assistant Principal, University of Edinburgh) and Stephanie Vallancey (Vice President Education, Students’ Association), provide an update on progress so far, encourage students and staff to comment on a draft of the reflective analysis and outline the next steps…


ELIR is an external review of the quality of the student learning experience that we provide. Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Scotland conducts the review every five years; our last review was in 2015.  It is important because it provides an opportunity for us to reflect on our approach to learning and teaching and the student learning experience. The outcome of the review is a judgement of the effectiveness of our approach; a positive outcome is therefore critical.

If you want to find out more about our ELIR, please have a look at the recording of a briefing session, which was held in early March.


In preparation for the review we have been drafting a Reflective Analysis (RA) which covers: our strategies, structure and background information; the student learning experience; how we enhance learning and teaching (including how we develop and support staff); how we manage the quality of our courses and programmes; and how we manage our collaborative provision (where we work in partnership with other organisations to deliver courses and programmes).

Drafts chapters of the RA, developed using information gathered from across the University and the Students’ Association, were made available to all staff and students in November and December 2019 with accompanying Teaching Matters blog posts.  Comments received on the draft chapters were used to develop a first draft of the RA.  This first draft was then reviewed by key internal and external stakeholders in late January/early February. Comments received on the first draft have been used to develop a second draft, which is now being made available to all students and staff to comment on.


The RA is a self-evaluative document that covers how we are working to enhance the student learning experience. Involvement from staff and students in shaping the RA to ensure it reflects practices and experiences across the University is extremely important.

Stephanie Vallancy, Students’ Association Vice President Education, outlines why it is important for students to get involved:

The drafting of the RA gives a chance for students to have a strong voice in the process, through commenting on the drafts as well as engaging in any other activity relating to the review. This should be a collective and inclusive process – engaging with all aspects of the student journey. Chapter 2 has a strong student focus through the exploring Student Learning Experience, which is specifically relevant to how the University works with the student voice, feedback processes, and student support systems in place that students work with on a day to day basis.

Tina Harrison, Assistant Principal Academic Standards and Quality Assurance, comments:

Engagement from staff and students in this self-evaluation process has been excellent. The Reflective Analysis is the key piece of evidence that the review team will use to inform their view of us and the effectiveness of our strategies and practices for learning and teaching and the student experience, and will shape the meetings the review team will ask to have with students and staff. I invite all staff and students to look at, and comment on, the document to ensure it truly reflects us and, importantly, highlights all the positive aspects we would wish it to.


We welcome comments from students and staff on the draft RA.  These can be emailed to  We would ask you to consider whether the draft RA reflects current practice and experiences across the University.

The draft RA can be found on the Academic Services’ website

The deadline for comments on the draft RA is Wednesday 8 April 2020. 


We will use the comments received on the second draft of the RA to create a final version which will pass through University committees for approval in June 2020. The final approved version of the RA and a supporting Advanced Information Set (AIS) will be submitted to QAAS in August.

A review team, comprising three academic reviewers, two student reviewers and one co-ordinating reviewer, has been appointed by QAAS to conduct our ELIR. They will read the RA and AIS and visit the University twice to meet with students and staff. We know who the review team want to meet during their planning visit on 1 October and we are working with these students and staff to prepare them. We won’t know exactly who the review team want to meet during their main review visit (which takes place in the week beginning Monday 16 November) until one week after the planning visit. However, we are working to identify staff and students in roles or who have been involved in key activities who we believe the review team may wish to meet during the main review visit. Everyone who meets the review team will be fully briefed in advance.



If you have any comments, queries or ideas about the review, we would love to hear from you:

Tina Harrison

Tina is Assistant Principal Academic Standards and Quality Assurance and Professor of Financial Services Marketing and Consumption. Tina joined the University in 1993 and continues to maintain an active academic role in the Business School. She has had overall responsibility for the University’s quality assurance framework as Assistant Principal since 2009. She plays a key role in the Scottish HE quality landscape as a member of QAA Scotland’s Advisory Board, chair of the sparqs University Advisory Group, and member of the Quality Arrangements for Scottish Higher Education (QASHE) group

Stephanie Vallancey

Stephanie Vallancey is the current Vice President Education at Edinburgh University Students’ Association. She studied Health, Science and Society at the University.

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