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With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, questions have been raised around our position in relation to our geography undergraduate accreditation programme during what will be a period of significant disruption.
We recognise that higher education institutions may need to make short-term changes to the curriculum and assessment of their accredited programmes. We are closely monitoring, and are being guided by, information issued by relevant sector bodies, including the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and Department for Education (DfE). The Society’s aim is to support higher education providers in prioritising student wellbeing and maintaining academic standards in geography throughout this challenging time.
The Society can confirm that in instances where changes are made, this will have no impact on a programme’s accredited status and need not be reported to the Society, provided that:
The learning outcomes of the programme overall continue to be met, and;
The changes are temporary and will not have any effect beyond the 2020/21 academic year.
We recognise that if the achievement of particular learning outcomes is not possible at this time, providers may follow their procedures for making emergency minor amendments, for example, to enable students to progress and achieve the 'missing' learning outcomes at a later date. For final year students, it may be possible to determine that students have already achieved particular outcomes at an earlier stage of a course. While disruption to modules is almost inevitable, we encourage departments to keep in mind the overall programme outcomes - it is the demonstration of these that underpins the Society’s accreditation.
Many universities are implementing a ‘no detriment policy’. While there are various definitions and interpretations of this term, ultimately, if a department is confident that the grades awarded are fair, valid and reliable, it follows that academic standards will be secure. This will not affect our accreditation.
If the learning outcomes require the demonstration of fieldwork or laboratory skills, it may be that such assessments, where they are essential to the achievement of an award, have to be postponed or can be fulfilled at this time asking students to interpret existing data or using remote simulations or other online resources.
If any accredited programme learning outcomes will be modified, or if changes made are intended to remain in effect beyond the 2020/21 academic year, please submit details of the changes using a Changes to Accredited Programme form to the email address below for review. These will be reviewed promptly.
This autumn, as part of annual re-registration, we will be asking all accredited programmes to reflect on and briefly report their response in terms of adjustments to their undergraduate programmes as a consequence of the pandemic. The Society reserves the right to amend this statement and to extend or truncate its period of validity.
Should you have any queries or concerns regarding RGS-IBG Programme Accreditation, please contact Dr Martin Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This statement was originally published on 9th April 2020. It was updated and re-endorsed on 9th July 2020.
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