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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education


​​​​​QAA terms explained

This glossary explains terms that are frequently used in our work and publications.

Click on the appropriate letter(s) to find​​​ your required explanation.​

This glossary is also available in Welsh. Mae'r eirfa hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg​​.

  • career education

    Information, advice and guidance (IAG) aimed at helping students with career choices, and to plan and prepare for future employment and further education or training.
  • certificate of higher education

  • Charter

    ​See Royal Charter​.​
  • Code of Practice

    ​The Code of practice for the assurance of academic quality and standards in higher education published by QAA: a set of interrelated documents giving guidance for higher education providers, which formed the core element of the Academic Infrastructure (now superseded by the Quality Code​).​
  • cohort

    A group (of students) who share the same learning experience, for example because they entered the same programme of study at the same university in the same year.
  • collaborative arrangement

     ​A formal arrangement between a degree-awarding body and another higher education provider, allowing for the latter to provide higher education on behalf of the former, typically leading to an award of credit, or a qualification, from the degree-awarding body. In all such cases, the degree-awarding body remains responsible for ensuring that the Expectations of the Quality Code​ are met.​
  • collaborative partner

    See delivery organisation, support provider and partner organisation​.
  • Collaborative Provision Audit

    See Audit of Collaborative Provision​​
  • concern

    ​An issue potentially posing a risk to the standards and quality of higher education, requiring evidence-based investigation.

  • confidence judgement

    ​​​​A judgement by a QAA review team that 'confidence can reasonably be placed in the soundness of an institution's current and likely future management o​f the academic standards of its awards and/or of the quality of the learning opportunities​ available to students' (two separate judgements for standards and learning opportunities). Alternatively, the team might express limited confidence or no confidence in these issues.​
  • conservatoire

    A specialist institution for training in the performing arts (dance, drama and music).
  • continuing professional development (CPD)

    ​Training programmes, some leading to formal awards​, to extend a person's employment-related knowledge, skills and understanding.​
  • course

    See programme and module.
  • credit accumulation

    ​​Achieving academic credit over time, by successful completion of units of study, or by accreditation of prior learning or recognition of prior learning​.​
  • credit accumulation and transfer schemes

    Arrangements within and between higher education providers enabling academic credit to be accumulated over time and transferred between programmes and/or providers.
  • credit and qualifications framework

    A credit framework combined with a qualifications framework, for example: the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF).
  • credit framework

    A published formal structure that states the credit value typically associated with programmes and qualifications, and that generally includes credit level descriptors.
  • credit level

    An indicator of the relative complexity, depth and autonomy of learning associated with a particular module, used in credit frameworks. (See also credit value and credit level descriptor.)
  • credit level descriptor

    A statement of the generic characteristics of learning at a specific credit level, used as a reference point for those designing programmes of study. See credit framework.
  • credit transfer

    A system that allows credit awarded by one higher education awarding body to be recognised and included towards the requirements for a programme​ at another higher education provider; or that allows credit gained on a particular programme to contribute towards the requirements of a different one. See also credit accumulation and transfer schemes.​
  • credit value

    The number of credits at a specified credit level, indicating the amount and difficulty of the learning achieved, based on notional hours of learning​.​
  • credit(s)

    A means of quantifying and recognising learning, used by most institutions that provide higher education programmes of study​, expressed as numbers of credits at a specific level. See also credit level, credit value, credit accumulation and transfer schemes.
  • current

    (Referring to information) Up to date.
  • current students

    ​Students enrolled on, and participating in, a programme of study who have not yet completed their studies or been awarded their qualification.