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The new approach

We have now published a revised ‘operating model’ for quality assessment in higher education in England. 

This marks the next phase of the Quality Assessment Review begun by DELNI, HEFCE and HEFCW in October 2014 as part of each funding body’s statutory responsibility for quality assessment in higher education.

During 2016-17 we will be testing and developing aspects of the new approach with the sector and students before it is put into practice in 2017-18. 

What is the new model?

The higher education sector in England has become more and more diverse.

The revised approach to quality assessment is designed to be proportionate, risk-based and grounded in the mission and context of an individual university or college and the composition of its student body.

It will target regulatory activity on those institutions that represent greater risk to the student interest or to the reputation of the sector.

The core elements

The revised operating model consists of three core elements:

  • baseline regulatory requirements, with a single gateway for entry to the higher education system and a period of closer engagement and monitoring for recent entrants
  • risk-based and context-sensitive review arrangements for established providers, with rapid, tailored intervention when things go wrong
  • protection of the international reputation of UK higher education, including the quality assurance of transnational education.

Students play a crucial role as partners in the design and operation of quality assessment arrangements. We will continue to work with students and their representative bodies as the new arrangements take shape. 

Who will operate the new approach?

Under the new approach HEFCE will deliver some activities as part of its broader role as a regulator.

For other activities, it will be more appropriate to contract one or more external organisations with the relevant expertise and experience.

To tender for this contract we have considered carefully our obligations under European Union procurement law.

We have run an open procurement process for these contracts through the Official Journal of the European Union.

We have now announced preferred bidders following the tender exercise.

See the invitation to tender

Contact information

Publicly funded providers should contact their HEFCE regional consultant

For other queries contact the Quality Assessment team 

Institutions and organisations in Wales should contact

Institutions and organisations in Northern Ireland should contact

Page last updated 25 April 2017

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