Review of Department of Italian The Academic Quality Assurance Programme 2002-2003

An Coiste Feabhais Acadúil
The Committee on Academic Quality Improvement
The Academic Quality Assurance Programme 2002-2003
Report to Údarás na hOllscoile
Review of
Department of Italian
Self Assessment
Review Group Visit
Follow Up Meeting
Sept 2002 to Jan 2003
4 and 5th of March, 2003
29th May, 2003
This Report was compiled for members of Údarás na hOllscoile, NUI Galway and its
committees as a readily accessible but comprehensive source of information on the above
review, its context and its outcomes.
Professor Jim Gosling, Director of Quality, July 2004
Report to Údarás – Review of Department of Italian 200–04
1. Overview of Department
1.1 Aims and Objectives of the Department
1. To establish the Department as a centre for excellence in Italian studies nationally and
internationally, and also to play a significant role in the Arts Faculty and other Faculties
in NUI Galway, both now and in the years ahead.
2. To offer the highest quality undergraduate and graduate tuition particularly in the areas
of 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries Italian language, literature and culture.
1.2 Recent changes
The present Professor and Head of Department was appointed in 1999.
1.3 Programmes currently contributed to
BA and BA International (Italian)
BComm International with Italian
MA in Translation
Diploma in Italian (two year, in Ennis, County Clare)
The Department also has 2 research students registered for MPhil and 4 for PhD degrees.
1.4 Student numbers
Fulltime equivalent (FTE) student numbers in the Department were 44 in the year 2001,
remaining relatively stable since 1997, when they were 41. There was an increase overall in
FTE Students in Arts Faculty departments from 2358 to 2903 (23%) during the same period.
1.5 Staff to student ratio
The number of fulltime equivalent academic staff in the Department was 3.26 in 2001
(including 1 Professor, 1 Applied Language Teacher, 1 Italian Government Lecturer, 2 Parttime Conract Lecturers, and 1 Foreign Language Assistant), having been 3.74 in 1997, giving a
staff student ratio of 13.0 in 2001, as compared to a Science Faculty average of 22. There was
also a part-time Secretary/ Administrator.
1.6 Costs
The cost of the Department per FTE student (€6666 for direct costs and €8398 for all costs) was
greater than the Arts Faculty average (€3409 and €4558, respectively) (2001 figures).
2. Review Group Visit and Report
This report arises from a visit by a review group to the Department of Italian on the 4th and 5th
of March, 2003. The Department had already prepared and submitted a 'Self Assessment
Report' that, with other documentation, was made available to the review team in advance of the
The Review Group (RG) consisted of Professor Sharon Wood, Professor of Italian and Head of
School of Modern Languages, University of Leicester (Chairperson); Professor Eduardo
Saccone, Head of Department, Department of Italian, University College Cork; An tOllamh
Report to Údarás – Review of Department of Italian 200–04
Pádraig Ó Gormaile, Department of French, NUI, Galway; and Dr Niall W. A. Geraghty of the
CFA acting as rapporteur.
2.1 Summary, and Main Recommendations from Report
General Conclusions
• The RG considered that in general the aims and objectives of the Department are seriously
jeopardized by the fact that there is only one permanent staff member currently in post.
• The very high quality of the teaching provided is evident, in particular from students’
• Valuable and impressive research activity, mostly, but not exclusively, in the areas of
modern and contemporary Italian poetry, translation studies, and production of language and
culture texts for commerce students is taking place on an ongoing basis.
• A considerable burden falls on the Head of Department, in form of teaching, administration
and management tasks.
• It is particularly impressive that, despite the staffing situation, all examination material is
currently double marked.
• There is evidence of strategic thinking in the Department and the RG strongly recommends
that the MLB should be used as a vehicle to foster this activity.
• The range of courses on offer is very good for a department of this size, covering a range of
both period and genre.
• The range of courses on offer is certainly comparable to similar departments of this size.
• The quality of the courses on offer, as well as the levels of student attainment, have been
highly regarded by successive external examiners.
• There is a very good level of recruitment into postgraduate study.
• A Department of this size is to be commended on its involvement in Diploma teaching at
• The Department’s success in obtaining funding for research projects under several schemes
operated by the University is notable.
• The RG appreciated the provisions (for example of a non-teaching day) made in the
Department in order to encourage and facilitate the research activity particularly of the
junior staff.
• It is clear that all colleagues are encouraged to participate in university life at all levels.
• The Department appreciates the importance of outreach at a time of demographic change in
the West of Ireland. Initiatives include the Diploma course at Ennis and the Public Lecture
Specific Action Points
• The two vacant academic positions should be filled as soon as possible.
• A transparent set of workload data to include all departmental commitments should be
introduced for all staff.
• The apparent absence of appropriate university support staff, specifically porters, should be
• The lack of secretarial cover during the Departmental Secretary's summer holidays needs to
be addressed
• There is an immediate need to address the software and hardware problems in the MML.
Report to Údarás – Review of Department of Italian 200–04
An Educational Language Technologist should be appointed to support the MML.
There is an urgent need to clarify procedures between the Italian Department and some
university services (Examinations Office, Computer Services and Library).
The RG strongly recommends that the Italian Department participate fully in an active
The flow of information from central services about current student registration needs to be
The issues relating to attendance at lectures raised by the Department should be addressed
by the University.
The Department is encouraged to explore further development through team-taught courses
involving other departments within the Faculty.
The Department, in conjunction with other Language Departments and the Centre for
Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), should establish a training and induction
programme for new teachers and lecturers.
The Department, again in collaboration with cognate Departments and CELT, should
develop common modules at Masters and PhD level to address questions of theoretical
discourse, research methodology and research skills.
The possibility of allowing space for student presentations, using for example modern
technology such as PowerPoint, should be considered.
The development of a Department Research Seminar programme is recommended.
3. Follow up Meeting
Thursday 29th May, 2003
Present: Professor Jim Browne - Registrar, Professor Jim Gosling - Director of Quality (Chair),
Professor Catherine O’Brien – Head of Department, Dr Niall Geraghty – Review Group
Rapporteur, An tOllamh Padraig O’Gormaile – Review Group Cognate, Professor John
Marshall – Dean of Arts, Dr Iain MacLaren – Director for CELT, Professor Gerard Hurley –
Dean of Research, Dott. Danilo Giampiccolo, Dr Laura McLoughlin, Dott. Elena Toniato, Dott.
Regina Vio, Ms Olga Walsh, Ms Mary White, aureen Linnane – Quality Office (in attendance).
3.1 Action Plan for the Department:
1. The Department supports fully the expansion of the activities of the now-enlarged Modern
Languages Board (MLB) and anticipates benefiting significantly from its initiatives.
2. A transparent system to estimate and collate workloads, including all departmental
commitments, has been introduced for all academic staff.
3. The Department will continue to invite members from central University services to the
department for information sessions.
4. The Department has explored further development through team-taught courses involving
other departments within the Faculty and team-taught courses have already been
5. An extra optional module in translation will be made available in second and final year.
Report to Údarás – Review of Department of Italian 200–04
6. From September 2003 all staff will be required to participate in student recruitment with
particular attention paid to students at undergraduate level.
7. The Department will continue, and expand, its outreach initiatives:
• Second Year of the Diploma in Ennis will continue in September 2003 with students
graduating in July 2004.
• Following a request from the Director of the Modern Languages Initiative (organised by
the Department of Education and Science), a two-year post-graduate diploma in the
teaching of Italian for secondary school teachers will be provided in Sligo from
September 2003.
• Plans are in place to run another Public Lecture Series in Autumn 2003.
8. The Department, in collaboration with other Departments have developed common modules
at Masters and PhD level to address questions of theoretical discourse, research
methodology and research skills.
9. Having a viable number of permanent staff in the department, a well-defined research
programme will be established and sabbatical leave will be arranged on a regular basis. Staff
will be encouraged to apply for all types of research funding at college and national level.
10. A Department Research Seminar Programme is already in place for the academic year 20032004.
11. The Head of Department will contact the Human Resource Department to apply for
secretarial cover during the Departmental Secretary’s summer holidays.
3.2 Action plan for University Management:
1. Two Lecturer posts in the Department have been released for advertisement, one above and
one below ‘the bar’, and it is anticipated that the appointees will be in place for the new
academic year, 2003–04.
2. The Registrar will support a proposal currently before the APRC, to the advertise
immediately the permanent post of Applied Language Teacher in order to ensure adequate
staffing in the Department for the new academic year, 2003–04.
3. The Registrar will support an application through the usual channel from the department for
a laptop computer, to allow staff and post-graduate students make presentations related to
teaching and research.
4. The Registrar anticipates that problems associated with student registration and the flow of
related information from central services will be remedied by the on-line registration of
students in 2003-2004.
5. The Faculty of Arts has contributed funding to the new Film School for the purchase of
equipment, which will be available for use by the Department.
6. The Dean of Arts will meet with the MLB and the Director of CELT to identify a solution to
the problems encountered by staff using the Multi Media Laboratory. The Registrar will
consider, before September 2003, a ‘once-off’ submission for any necessary funds.
7. The Director of CELT will work with the Department through the MLB to provide an
introductory course on language teaching methods for all new staff, whether permanent or
8. In relation to low attendance at lectures and tutorials, the Directors of Quality and CELT
will investigate measures adopted by other universities in response to this problem.
9. The Director of CELT will work with the Department to resolve issues related to
audiovisual equipment in more distant lecture theatres.
Report to Údarás – Review of Department of Italian 200–04
10. The Dean of Research will give a presentation related to research issues to the staff of the
11. The Director of Quality will investigate arrangements for the provision of timely Induction
Courses for new University staff.
Approved by: Head of Department, Professor Catherine O’Brien, 23 June 2003
Approved by: Dean of Arts, Professor John Marshall, 17 July 2003
Approved by: Dean of Research, Professor Gerard Hurley, 10 July 2003
Approved by: Registrar, Professor James Browne, 8 July 2003
Finalised: 17 July 2003 Jim Gosling, Director of Quality