We use cookies on this website. If you continue to use the website, we will use cookies to maximise your experience and help us to improve.

To find out more about cookies, how we use them and how to remove them, see our privacy and cookies statement.
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​​.

  • higher education

    Education that comes after secondary and further education, leading to a qualification or credit awarded by a degree-awarding body. Typically it involves working towards a degree, but some programmes may lead to a diploma, certificate or other award or qualification on the national Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (Qualifications Frameworks).

  • higher education institutions

    ​​Universities, colleges or other organisations that primarily deliver programmes of higher education. See also higher education providers.​
  • higher education providers

    ​​​​​​Organisations that deliver higher education. In the UK they may be a degree-awarding body or another organisation that offers programmes of higher education on behalf of one or more degree-awarding bodies.​

  • Higher Education Review

    ​The method used by QAA to review providers of higher education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland against the Expectations of the Quality Code

  • highly trusted sponsor

    See Tier 4.
  • honorary degree

    An award that is not an academic qualification but which is used by a degree-awarding body to recognise the achievements or status of a particular individual. The term should not be confused with ‘honours degree’ (see bachelor's degree).

  • honours degree

    The type of bachelor's degree that is generally awarded in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and is also awarded in Scotland as distinct from ordinary bachelor's degrees. An honours degree requires more extensive study and achievement than an ordinary degree.​