Quality Assurance in Higher Education in the UK

Quality Assurance in Higher Education in the UK


In Great Britain, quality assurance in higher education takes place at different levels. Only state-recognized universities are allowed to hold academic degrees such as Bachelor, Master or Ph.D. forgive.

Before they enter the academic education market, the universities go through an initial state control. This ensures that they meet the minimum quality standards.

Degree-Awarding Powers

Degree-Awarding Power in Great Britain means the right to award degrees. Universities that have this are given the designation Degree-Awarding Bodies or Recognized Bodies.

State-funded universities have the right to award academic degrees for an unlimited period of time. Private institutions, on the other hand, have to apply for a renewal every six years.

QAA and the UK Quality Code

State-recognized universities are autonomous and are therefore responsible for the design of their courses and the processes of their quality assurance. There is no national accreditation or approval of courses in Great Britain. To learn more about United Kingdom and Europe, please visit themakeupexplorer. Nevertheless, there are uniform, national minimum standards that all state-recognized universities must meet with regard to their courses.

The national agency for quality assurance, the QAA (The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education), defines these standards in the so-called UK Quality Code for Higher Education. The QAA primarily has an advisory and support role for the universities. Even if the quality code is not anchored in law, the specifications of the code are binding.

The UK Quality Code

The quality code is continuously adapted to current developments. It basically consists of three areas:

  • Part A: Establishing and Maintaining Academic Standards
  • Part B: Ensuring and improving academic quality
  • Part C: Information about Higher Education Provision

Part A

Part A defines minimum standards and offers universities a common starting point and reference point.

It is primarily about the minimum learning achievement that a student must achieve in order to complete a course or to obtain an academic degree. This minimum level is the same across the UK for degrees at the same qualification level (Bachelor, Master, Ph.D.).

Since the quality code only specifies the lower limit, some universities also set higher minimum standards. The limits to achieving special awards such as a first-class honors degree (comparable to a very good German Bachelor’s or Master’s degree) can also vary.

Part B

Part B relates to the support that universities should provide to their students in achieving the learning objective. It is about learning processes, the quality of teaching and the method of assessment. This also includes all the resources and processes that a university uses to support its students in reaching their full potential.

Part C.

Part C provides guidelines for providing study information. The information should be functional, reliable, and easily accessible to students.

Internal and external quality assurance at the universities

Each UK university also has internal quality assurance mechanisms. Since universities act autonomously, these mechanisms may differ from university to university.

However, all universities regularly conduct internal examinations to ensure the quality of the courses offered:

  • Annual Monitoring (annual check)
  • Periodic Reviews (major review every five years)

The reference point here is always the UK Quality Code.

The QAA also carries out external examinations at the universities. There are regular checks by QAA auditors, as a result of which the QAA prepares a report. In it, the auditors comment on and assess the quality standards of the respective institution. The reports are publicly available so that interested parties can find out about the results at any time. The QAA audits show parallels to the audit process that is common in New Zealand, for example.

In some departments it is common for another body to take part in quality assurance. So in is medical een subjects and in the field of engineering sciences a recognition of the relevant professional association required.


There are also two frames of reference for tertiary education in the UK:

  • The FHEQ (Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland)
  • The FQHEIS (Framework for Qualifications of Higher Education Institutions in Scotland)

Both the FHEQ and the FQHEIS include different levels (levels) and assign to each academic degree a level of education with specific competences. The QAA manages both frames of reference and is also responsible for quality assurance.

The frameworks are aids for universities and external examiners. They provide a reference for setting academic standards and assessing student success. The universities arrange their courses at the appropriate level. They ensure that the targeted minimum learning success of the degree program corresponds to the intended minimum learning success of the respective level. External auditors then regularly check this conformity.

Quality Assurance in Higher Education in the UK