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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​​.

  • educational oversight

    Scrutiny of educational provision by an independent organisation, particularly referring to QAA's scrutiny of colleges wishing to obtain highly trusted sponsor status as defined by UK Visas and Immigration. See also Tier 4.
  • educational village

    ​​A group of education providers occupying a shared campus and ethos, and forming a pedagogic community, despite not necessarily providing education of the same type or at the same level.​

  • e-learning

  • embedded college

    A private organisation, usually part of a network, operating within or near to the premises of a degree-awarding body​, usually engaged in the preparation of students for entry to higher education programmes.​
  • employability

    ​​A set of achievements, skills, understanding and personal attributes that makes graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations.

  • engagement

    ​​Interacting and communicating with a particular group or organisation leading to improved understanding, especially on issues of shared concern.

  • enhancement

    The process by which higher education providers systematically improve the quality of provision and the ways in which students' learning is supported. It is used as a technical term in our review processes. ​
  • Enhancement Theme

    ​​A specific area or aspect of provision or practice, agreed and planned by the higher education sector in Scotland and managed by QAA, with the aim of enhancing the student learning experience. The Themes encourage academic staff, support staff and students to share good practice (from the UK and internationally) and collectively generate ideas and models for innovation in learning and teaching.

  • Enhancement-led Institutional Review

    The method used by QAA in Scotland to report on quality and academic standards in higher education institutions, and which has much in common with QAA's other review methods. In particular, ELIR explores the ways Scottish institutions seek to improve the learning experiences they provide for students.

  • enrolment

    ​​The formal procedures that a student must complete or pass through during the admissions stage, after being accepted onto a course and before starting it.

  • European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System

    ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​(ECTS) A system used across Europe for the transfer and accumulation of academic credit​ (see credit accumulation and transfer schemes).​
  • European Standards and Guidelines

    ​​(ESG) The expectations developed by the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) for quality assurance in higher education across the European Higher Education Area.

  • executive structures

    ​​The infrastructure within an organisation for decisions and action to be taken by a hierarchy of individual officers.

  • Expectations

    ​​​​Statements in the Quality Code that set out what all UK higher education providers expect of themselves and each other and what the general public can therefore expect of them. ​
  • external examiner

    ​​An independent expert appointed by an institution to comment on student achievement in relation to established academic standards and to look at approaches to assessment.

  • external examining

    ​​​​​The process by which one or more independent experts (external examiners) comment(s) on student achievement in relation to established academic standards and on the higher education provider's approach to assessment, thus helping to ensure consistent standards and fair assessment procedures across the UK.

  • external review

    A review conducted at higher education provider by a suitably qualified team of people not normally employed there. See also institution-led review.​
  • externality

    The use of experts from outside a higher education provider, such as external examiners, to assist in quality assurance procedures.​