Spotlight on ELIR: Publication of the Reflective Analysis

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This is the tenth post in the ‘Spotlight on ELIR’ series, which will chart the Enhancement-led Institutional Review (ELIR) taking place in February and March 2021. In this post, Nichola Kett provides an update on the review and PhD intern Vesna Curlic shares the photographs chosen to reflect each chapter of the Reflective Analysis (RA).


ELIR is an external review of the quality of the student learning experience that we provide.


We are delighted to announce that the Reflective Analysis (RA), the key document which supports the review, has been published on the Academic Services website. Thank you to colleagues from across the University and Students’ Association who contributed to the development of the RA. The RA and a supporting Advance Information Set (AIS) has been submitted to the Quality Assurance Agency Scotland (QAAS) who run the reviews. The RA and AIS will be read by the review team appointed to conduct our ELIR and will be used to identify themes to explore in meetings with students and staff.


QAAS have confirmed that our ELIR visits will be carried out online using Microsoft Teams. Guidance has been developed and will be shared with students and staff who meet the review team.  As a reminder, the key dates are:

  • Planning visit: Wednesday 3 February 2021
  • Review visit: Monday 22 to Friday 26 March 2021


PhD intern Vesna Curlic reflected on each chapter of the RA and selected a photograph that represents the essence of that chapter. The photographs and reflections, which feature at the start of each chapter in the RA, are shared here.

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This first chapter of the RA is a broad overview of the University’s structure, governance, and population. For this chapter, I selected this photograph of Edinburgh, with McEwan Hall prominently displayed in the heart of the city’s landscape. This is representative on two levels – first, this chapter is an aerial look at the University much in the same way the photograph is. Also, McEwan Hall is, in my eyes, the ubiquitous symbol of the University. This is the place I take visitors when I want to inspire awe. In this picture, McEwan Hall is instantly recognisable, asserting the University’s place in the city’s iconic landscape.

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Chapter two of the Reflective Analysis is about the student learning experience. For this chapter, I selected a photograph of a group of students standing outside the Main Library. With such a wealth of knowledge and resources within its walls, the library is a key part of the student learning experience. But this picture also shows that the student learning experience is so much more than what happens in the classroom. These students seem to have gathered outside the library for a brief respite from a long study session, or they’ve bumped into each other walking through George Square. Chapter Two considers the learning experience holistically, including wellbeing, belonging, peer support, and community. This picture represents this balance between learning and life that marks the student experience.

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Next, there is the chapter on the University of Edinburgh’s approach to teaching and learning. I’ve selected this photograph from a first-year Engineering lecture, where Professor Alan Murray is using an electric guitar as a part of his lecture. I haven’t personally taken this course, so I do lack some context, but this photograph embodies the University of Edinburgh’s constant commitment to innovative teaching methods. Chapter Three discusses a lot of the technical processes that happen behind the scenes to make sure teaching is always meeting and exceeding the standard expected by the University and the sector. This picture shows the results of all that effort and those backend processes – the only part the students see, for the most part.

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In Chapter Four, we look at the University’s academic standards and quality processes. Much like the graduating students in this picture had to regularly demonstrate the quality of their work and their academic achievements to reach this point, so does the University as a whole. All aspects of the University are regularly reviewed, assessed, and improved through a series of quality monitoring processes. This image encapsulates the success borne by many years of hard work and improvement, which is at the heart of this chapter, too. On another level, this picture reminds us that the success of our institution is also the success of hundreds of individual students each year. Each year, a new group of students finishes their time at the University of Edinburgh and takes their experiences here into the world, starting or furthering careers, opening businesses, living their lives and changing the world. This wide-reaching impact is ultimately why these institutional quality-assurance processes are so vital.

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Chapter Five covers our collaborative provisions. These are the local, national, and international partnerships that the University holds, which facilitate the delivery of courses and programmes. Because this chapter is all about collaboration, I selected a photograph of Old College at night, with cars and people zooming past. This photograph represents the natural development of the University over the many years of its existence – the easy collaboration between the old and the new. It reminds me how the University is constantly modernising and internationalising, creating connections with people and organisations all over the world. Despite all this rapid development, the University’s core commitment to excellence – much like Old College – stay steady.


Nichola Kett

Nichola Kett is Head of Quality Assurance and Enhancement Team in Academic Services, where she oversees the implementation and management of the quality framework and manages the quality assurance and enhancement team. Nichola also engages with and contributes to key University learning and teaching activities.

photograph of the authorVesna Curlic

Vesna Curlic is a PhD student in History at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on the history of medicine and immigration in Britain, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She is currently working as a PhD Intern in the Academic Services department, supporting the Enhancement-Led Institutional Review.

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