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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

REO Podcast transcript 

GG: George Gigney
MP: Mychelle Pryde
RG: Rachael Gee

GG: Hello and welcome to this QAA podcast, I am George Gigney and today I will be speaking to Rachael Gee and Mychelle Pryde about the Review for Education Oversight, or REO as it is also known. 

Hi guys, and thanks for speaking with me today.

MP/RG: Hey.

GG: First question, what is REO and how is it important?

RG: Well REO stands for Review for Educational Oversight, and it is a review method for private providers who wish to recruit international students through Tier Four. 

The UK Border Agency requires that all providers who wish to be Tier Four Sponsors should undergo educational oversight from one of a number of designated bodies, and QAA is one of these bodies who is recognised by the Border Agency to carry out educational oversight.   

A satisfactory review is one of a number of criteria the provider needs to meet to apply for Highly Trusted Sponsor status, which will then allow them to sponsor international students to study at their college.

GGHow does it differ from other QAA review methods? 

RG: Well, with REO, it is comparable to the QAA methods.  It is based on the review method that was used to review further education colleges that deliver higher education in the public sector. 

The review method therefore is not that different, but the providers themselves are more varied in terms of their size, their mission and their curricula.  Many of the providers offer business related programmes, but there are also a number of specialist providers that have charitable status such as the Architectural Association School of Architecture or the Princess School of Traditional Arts. 

GG: And what are the key features of REO?

MP: The key features are a review of the management of academic standards; management and enhancement of the quality of learning opportunities; and the management of public information; that is, the information that a provider produces about its learning opportunities. 

In common with other QAA reviews, the team consists of peers from public and private higher education providers and the recommendations and judgements the team make are based on evidence that the provider has made available to the team to support their self-evaluation.

GG: How does the self-evaluation element of the review work?

MP: The providers are asked to evaluate their management of the three areas I spoke about in the previous question.  They need to identify their strengths and their areas for development and then they need to provide the evidence to support their evaluation about the effectiveness of their management processes. 

The self-evaluation is really important because it forms the starting point for the review and as the teams follow up specific enquiries  they will look at additional evidence and triangulate what they have read by asking questions of academic and management staff and also of course, speaking to the students.

GG: What role do students play in REO?

RG: Students are invited to attend a briefing event which explains how the review process will work and the part that students can play in it.  They are then invited to produce a student submission which student representatives can put together to evaluate their experience of their academic programmes, in particular their experience of the quality of learning and teaching, the support they get for academic study, the resources that they have access to, to help them with their study, and the information they get as well. 

Review teams will meet with students during the review and will talk to them about their experiences. 

GG: And finally, how can listeners find out more information?

RG: They can go to the QAA website, and search for educational oversight, or Tier Four, and that will take them to the web pages with all the information about the educational oversight reviews, or they could also email

GG: Okay, thanks very much to the both of you for speaking with me today, and thank you, for listening to this QAA podcast.

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