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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

Glossary

​​​​​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​​.

  • partner organisation

    A degree-awarding body working with another degree-awarding body where both are exercising their degree awarding powers to offer dual or joint awards.

  • Partnership arrangement

    Arrangements whereby students who have successfully completed a programme at one organisation may be considered on an individual basis for progression either to the beginning or to a more advanced stage of a programme of the degree-awarding body. See also articulation arrangement.

  • pastoral support

    Help or guidance, usually given on a one-to-one basis, that relates not to academic matters but to the personal and emotional issues that may arise during a student's higher education experience. See also learning support.​
  • peer review

    A process of review conducted by people with current or very recent experience of the activity being reviewed (in this case, providing or assessing higher education).​
  • periodic review

    An internal review of one or more programmes of study, undertaken by institutions periodically (typically once every five years), using nationally agreed reference points, to confirm that the programmes are of an appropriate academic standard and quality. The process typically involves experts from other higher education providers.

  • personal development planning

    ​​​​​​A structured and supported process undertaken by a learner to reflect upon their own learning, performance and/or achievement and to plan for their personal, educational and career development.​​
  • placement

    A planned period of experience outside the institution (for example, in a workplace) to help students to develop particular skills, knowledge or understanding as part of their programme.​
  • postgraduate certificate

    A higher education qualification at level 7 in The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, at level 7 in the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales, and at level 11 in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.

  • postgraduate diploma

    A higher education qualification at level 7 in The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, at level 7 in the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales, and at level 11 in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.

    See also framework for higher education qualifications and credit and qualifications framework.   

  • postgraduate student

    ​​​A student who has attained a bachelor's degree or equivalent and is now studying for a qualification at a higher level.
  • Primary Medical Qualification

    ​​(PMQ) A first medical degree awarded by a body or combination of bodies that is recognised by the General Medical Council for this purpose, or that was empowered to issue PMQs at the time the degree was awarded.​
  • prior learning

  • Private provider

    ​An independent college that offers UK higher education but is not in receipt of public funding from the higher education funding councils and may be operating for profit or have charitable status. See also alternativeprovider.

  • Privy Council

    The most august government body, which formally advises the monarch on specified matters, including decisions about which institutions shall be awarded the title and status of university, and/or be allowed to award degrees.​

  • professional body

    ​​An organisation that oversees the activities of a particular profession and represents the interests of its members.

  • professional, statutory and regulatory bodies

    (PSRBs) Organisations that set the standards for, and regulate entry into, particular profession(s) and are authorised to accredit, approve or recognise specific programmes leading to the relevant professional qualification(s) - for which they may have a statutory or regulatory responsibility.

  • programme (of study)

    An approved course of study that provides a coherent learning experience and normally leads to a qualification. UK higher education programmes must be approved and validated by UK degree-awarding bodies. ​

  • programme approval

    A formal process through which a degree-awarding body decides that a programme of study (content, teaching/learning and assessment) is of appropriate standard and quality to lead to one of its qualifications. This applies both to programmes delivered directly by the degree-awarding body and to programmes delivered at delivery organisations

  • programme specifications

    Published statements about the intended learning outcomes of programmes of study, containing information about teaching and learning methods, support and assessment methods, and how individual units relate to levels of achievement.

  • Programme validation

  • progression

    Formal progress through an academic programme, meeting key academic requirements.​
  • progression arrangements

    Arrangements whereby students who have completed a programme at one organisation successfully may be considered on an individual basis for progression either to the beginning or to a more advanced stage of a programme of the degree-awarding body. See also articulation arrangement.​

  • Protected characteristics

    ​Certain characteristics – age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (ethnic origin or national identity), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, and sexual orientation – which, in the context of the Quality Code, may require particular consideration in ensuring equal access to educational opportunities for all

  • provider

    ​​​​​​​​​See higher education provider, private provider.​
  • provision

    In the context of higher education, making courses available to students and supplying them with learning opportunities accordingly.​
  • public

    Anyone who may obtain, or want access to, information about higher education provision.​
  • public domain

    Any location where members of the public can expect to find unrestricted access to information. See also in the public domain.​
  • public information

    ​​​​​​​​​Information that is freely available to the public (sometimes referred to as being in the public domain).​​

  • publish

    ​​To place (information) in the public domain, issuing it either as traditional printed matter or electronically - for example, on a website.​