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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

CLOSED: Higher Education Review: A more risk-based approach to the quality assurance of higher education in England 

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This consultation invites comments on the draft version of the handbook for Higher Education Review - a more risk-based approach to the quality assurance of higher education offered by QAA subscribers in England and Northern Ireland, as well as by providers with access to funding from HEFCE or DELNI who are not subscribers to QAA. Higher Education Review will be launched in 2013-14 and succeeds two methods: Institutional Review of Higher Education Institutions in England and Northern Ireland and Review of College Higher Education. It may also succeed Integrated Quality and Enhancement Review for further education colleges in Northern Ireland from 2014-15, and Review for Educational Oversight from January 2014. The latter will be the subject of a separate communication.

Why we are consulting

On 6 November 2012 HEFCE invited QAA to consult on, and then implement, a more risk-based approach to quality assurance. HEFCE's invitation was based on the outcomes of its own consultation on a risk-based approach, the outcomes of which were published in October 2012. The Background to the consultation document gives further information.

Who should respond?

We welcome contributions to this consultation from anyone with an interest in the quality assurance of higher education delivered by universities and colleges, including:

  • prospective, current and past students, and their representatives
  • academic and professional support staff
  • employers and their representative bodies
  • professional, statutory and regulatory bodies
  • providers' representative bodies.

What is the scope of the consultation?

We are consulting on all aspects of the draft handbook for Higher Education Review, excluding those features which have already been agreed through HEFCE's consultation. In summary, those features already agreed are:

  • the interval between reviews for different providers
  • the publication of a rolling programme of review
  • the review of all provision in a single exercise (that is, the integration of reviews of home and collaborative provision)
  • the abandonment of mid-cycle follow up reviews
  • the tailoring of the intensity of individual review according to the provider's track record in managing quality and standards
  • the attachment of greater weight to the reports of Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies as evidence in QAA reviews
  • the consideration of nationally published data.

How should I respond?

Please read the draft handbook and respond to the questions embedded in that draft via the online survey. You can view the questions that make up the survey before you submit your response.

You could also attend a consultation event to learn more about our proposals. Further details about these events and how to book them is available on the events page.

What is the deadline for responses?

The consultation for Higher Education Review is now closed.

What happens after that?

We intend to publish the final version of the handbook in May 2013. Reviews under the new method will begin in January 2014.

Contact details

Please send all enquiries to

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