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December 2009/47
Policy development
Consultation

Responses should be made online by Friday 5 March 2010


Future arrangements for quality assurance in England and Northern Ireland

This consultation document sets out proposals for revisions to the system used for quality assurance of higher education in England and Northern Ireland.

Outcomes of consultation (July 2010)


To: Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions
Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges
Heads of LSC-funded further education colleges
Heads of universities in Northern Ireland
Of interest to those responsible for: Institutional staff responsible for quality assurance
Student union officers
Funding councils and institutional representative bodies in Scotland and Wales
Other bodies with an interest in quality assurance of higher education, including employer bodies; professional, statutory and regulatory bodies
Reference: 2009/47
Publication date: December 2009
Enquiries to:

Emma Creasey at HEFCE
tel 0117 931 7225
e-mail e.creasey@hefce.ac.uk

Fiona Hoban at Universities UK
tel 020 7419 5484
e-mail fiona.hoban@universitiesuk.ac.uk

Helen Bowles at GuildHE
tel 020 7387 7711
e-mail helen.bowles@guildhe.ac.uk


Executive summary (read online)



Executive summary

Purpose

1.   This consultation document sets out proposals for revisions to the system used for quality assurance of higher education in England and Northern Ireland. It has been developed by the representative bodies for higher education (Universities UK (UUK) and GuildHE) and funders (HEFCE and the Department for Employment and Learning (in Northern Ireland)), with the advice and guidance of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).

2.   We are committed to a quality assurance system that is accountable, rigorous, transparent, flexible, responsive and public-facing. We want to tackle concerns about quality and standards and make real changes to improve the student experience and the reputation of higher education.

Key points

3.   This document consults on:

  1. Principles and objectives for the revised quality assurance system.
  2. The outline of a revised institutional audit method to operate from 2011-12, which would be more flexible and transparent, and which would provide improved information for a non-specialist audience, presented in clear and accessible terms.
  3. How institutional audit could focus on particular topics, and how these might change over time.
  4. How the comparability of threshold standards could be assured.
  5. How the language used to describe the different levels of confidence expressed in audit judgements might be improved.
  6. Whether institutional audit should make a judgement (rather than a comment) about the reliance that can be placed on the accuracy and completeness of published information.

4.   The QAA will run a further consultation on the detail of the revised institutional audit method in late 2010.

5.   This document also describes related elements of the quality assurance system, including: arrangements for external examining and the review of these being conducted by UUK and GuildHE; the review of teaching quality information being conducted by the Teaching Quality Information/National Student Survey Steering Group; and the review of the Academic Infrastructure being conducted by the QAA.

Action required

6.   Responses should be made online by Friday 5 March 2010 using the response form. This is an open consultation and we would welcome views from anyone with an interest in higher education.