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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

About us

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​We are the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA): the independent body ​entrusted with monitoring and advising on standards​ and quality in UK higher education.


We are dedicated to checking that the three million students working towards a UK qualification get the higher education ​experience they are entitled to expect.​​

As UK higher education grows and diversifies, we safeguard standards and support the improvement of quality for students - whether they study at a university or college in the UK or in any other location worldwide where courses lead to UK higher education qualifications.

The scale, shape, structure and purpose of learning provision are changing in the UK and around the world. We are uniquely placed to anticipate and respond to these changes in order to safeguard the reputation of UK higher education, support economic opportunity for the UK, and provide assurance to those who invest in and undertake learning.

Through our consultative and advisory role, working at government level through to individual organisations, we will continue to play our part in shaping the future. This extends to playing a leading role in international developments in quality assurance, through membership of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education and of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education.

Above all, we will continue to put students and the public interest at the centre of everything we do.​​​

Our role

We are independent of government and of higher education providers, and act in the public interest, for the benefit of students.

We develop guidance that is accepted by all involved in this important sector of the UK economy, and review higher education providers to check whether they meet agreed UK expectations.

While our review work is done under contract with the funding councils (the public bodies that help fund UK higher education), and our guidance is developed through close working with the providers themselves, we act independently of both the funding councils and the higher education sector.

Our work​​

The main areas of our work include:

  • publishing and maintaining the UK Quality Code for Higher Education​​
  • conducting evidence-based external reviews of higher education providers and reporting our findings publicly
  • investigating concerns about academic quality and standards
  • conducting research and sharing information about good practice to improve quality
  • involving students in our quality assurance work, our governance, and our reviews
  • consulting and working with all those who have an interest in the quality of UK higher education
  • working internationally with other agencies on common criteria for standards and quality
  • providing training and events to help higher education providers develop and improve their own quality assurance processes
  • advising government on applications for degree awarding powers and the right to be called a university in the UK
  • regulating the Access to Higher Education Diploma which provides an alternative route into higher education for adults.​

Our aims

We have three aims for 2014-17.​​

Enhance the quality and secure the standards of UK higher education wherever delivered in order to maintain public confidence.

 

To do this we intend to:​

  • safeguard and promote the national and international reputation of UK higher education through external review and enhancement
  • widen relevant provider, student and employer engagement with external quality assurance and enhancement of learning
  • ensure external quality assurance and enhancement evolve to anticipate and influence future change​.

 

Provide leadership, through knowledge and resources, in assuring and enhancing the quality of higher education within the UK and internationally.

To do this we intend to:

  • ensure that QAA's knowledge resources and expertise contribute positively and proactively to public debate on quality and enhancement
  • be at the forefront of policy debates on the quality of higher education, to support providers, students and decision-makers in meeting future challenges
  • shape and continuously improve assurance and enhancement practices in higher education through evidence-based expertise.

Extend and enhance the value and reach of QAA's services within and beyond UK higher education.

To do this we intend to:

  • establish QAA as the leading agency in international quality assurance and enhancement
  • proactively develop and deliver services to meet a broad range of needs, in accordance with our expertise
  • achieve greater financial sustainability to enusre our​ continued independence.​
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