QAA to relinquish role as designated quality body in English HE

A number of guidelines in England do not conform with European standards, which left QAA temporarily suspended from working elsewhere

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) is to relinquish its role as the independent body checking on standards and quality in HE in England.

Its function in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well its work on cross-UK sector reference points, such as the Quality Code for Higher Education, will be unaffected.

The QAA has acted as the designated quality body (DQB) across the UK since 1997, but has been forced to choose between discontinuing its role in England or losing its work in other territories.

The body recently had its registration temporarily suspended by the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR), without which it was unable to carry out its work in the rest of the UK or overseas.

A number of aspects of QAA’s work in England meant it was not complying with European standards and guidelines. Specifically, the English system does not:

  • require the QAA to publish all of its DQB reports
  • require students to be present on DQB review teams
  • have a cyclical review process

All of these are requirements of EQAR registration.

You may also like: Vicki Stott was announced as the new QAA CEO in May last year

Only the DQB aspect of QAA’s role in England will be affected. The rest of its work, funded through membership, will continue; indeed, the body claims that demitting the DQB function will enable it to offer a wider range of services to its members in England.

“We are committed to remaining EQAR-registered, and so have reluctantly decided that is no longer possible to continue as DQB in England,” said Vicki Stott, QAA CEO.

“We are working closely with the Department for Education and Office for Students to ensure a smooth transition.  We also look forward to the opportunities that will result for our other work, including enhancing our offer to our members in England and across the UK.”

QAA will remain the designated quality body in England until the current DQB year ends on 31 March 2023.

Pic: Vicki Stott, QAA CEO

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