Skip to main content | section navigation
You are in :
18 August 2008 HEFCE logo
To  Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions
Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges
Heads of universities in Northern Ireland
Telephone 0117 931 7317
Facsimile 0117 931 7203

Circular letter number 21/2008

For further information contact Emma Creasey, tel 0117 931 7225, e-mail

Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal

Policy for addressing unsatisfactory quality in institutions

1.   This letter accompanies a draft policy setting out ways in which HEFCE might address continuing issues of unsatisfactory quality in institutions, as judged by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) in audit or review. We are seeking institutions' views on the policy before it is finalised.

2.   The policy is intended to be used in situations when institutions have received a judgement of 'no confidence' in an audit or review and existing procedures for addressing problems have failed to result in sufficient improvement, as judged by QAA. At present, HEFCE has no formal policy for dealing with such an event.

3.   Although we do not envisage that this situation will arise often, if at all, it is important that institutions know in advance what the consequences might be. The attached document sets out a range of actions that might be taken. However, it has not been possible to devise a uniform policy and every case will be judged on its own merits.

4.   The Unsatisfactory Quality Policy has been discussed over the past few months with officers at Universities UK, GuildHE, the Association of Colleges and the Learning and Skills Council, and their comments have been incorporated. HEFCE's solicitors have provided legal advice and a draft has been considered by our Board.

5.   We welcome any comments that you may have on the policy, which can be found at Annex A. In particular we would like to know if you think the policy is sufficiently clear and represents a fair way of dealing with institutions in what we hope will be a very rare situation.

6.   After the consultation period we will publish a final version of the policy, which will take account of any comments where appropriate.

7.   Please e-mail any comments to Emma Creasey, Policy Officer at HEFCE ( by 10 November 2008. The policy will be finalised and published on the HEFCE web-site in early 2009.

Yours sincerely

Professor David Eastwood
Chief Executive


Annex A

[ MS Word 95K | Zipped Word 21K | Adobe PDF 71K | Zipped PDF 57K ]