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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​​.

  • fair

    ​​(Referring to information) Giving a true impression.

  • fit for purpose

    ​(Referring to information) Appropriate in terms of what the provider wants to communicate and the information needs of the intended audience.

  • fit to practise

  • fitness to practise

    ​​Being suitably qualified and prepared, and demonstrating appropriate skills, conduct, values and attributes, to perform a particular professional role as recognised by the relevant professional body.

  • flexible and distributed learning

    ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​A programme or module that does not require the student to attend classes or events at particular times and locations. See also distance learning.​
  • flying faculty

    ​​​​(Or 'fly-in, fly-out faculty') An arrangement whereby a programme is  delivered in a location away from the main campus (usually overseas) by staff from the degree-awarding body. (Support for students may be provided by local staff.)​
  • formative assessment

    ​​​​Feedback on students' performance, designed to help them learn more effectively and find ways to maintain and improve their progress. It does not contribute to the final mark, grade or class of degree awarded to the student. See also summative assessment.​
  • foundation course

    ​A higher education programme of study designed to prepare students for a further course for which they do not have the usual entry qualifications. Foundation courses sometimes constitute a preparatory 'Year 0' of a degree course. They are not the same as foundation degrees.

  • foundation degree

    A course of academic study leading to a higher education qualification, typically vocational in nature and usually completed over a period of two years. It is located at level 5 in The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and at level 5 in the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales.

  • Foundation degree awarding powers (FDAP)

  • framework

    ​​A published formal structure.

  • framework for higher education qualifications

    A published formal structure that identifies a hierarchy of national qualification levels and describes the general achievement expected of holders of the main qualification types at each level, thus assisting higher education providers in maintaining academic standards. QAA maintains the Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (Qualifications Frameworks), formerly published separately as The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ), and The Framework for Qualifications of Higher Education Institutions in Scotland (FQHEIS).

  • franchising

    ​​​​A process by which a degree-awarding body agrees to authorise another organisation to deliver (and sometimes assess) part or all of one (or more) of its own approved programmes. Often, the degree-awarding body retains direct responsibility for the programme content, the teaching and assessment strategy, the assessment regime and the quality assurance. Students normally have a direct contractual relationship with the degree-awarding body.​
  • full-time equivalent

    ​​A measure where each part-time staff member or student is expressed as a fraction (or decimal) of a full-time staff member or student, the total being considered collectively for comparison and funding purposes.

  • further education

    ​​​​Formal learning that follows compulsory education, such as A levels, NVQs and Access to Higher Education courses. Some form of further education is normally required to qualify for entry to higher education. ​

  • further education colleges

    Colleges including sixth-form colleges and specialist colleges that provide further education and training for school leavers and adults (also known as 'further education institutions' in Wales and Northern Ireland). Some such colleges also deliver higher education programmes leading to qualifications from other degree-awarding bodies and/or may have powers to award Foundation Degrees.​