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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​​.

  • qualification

    ​​​A formally recognised academic award, such as a degree, diploma or certificate, granted on successful completion of a progra​mme of study​.​
  • qualification descriptors

    Generic statements about the main qualifications at each level of a qualifications framework (for example, bachelor's degree with honours, master's degree), specifying what students should know, understand and/or be able to demonstrate on being awarded that qualification, and exemplifying its characteristics.

  • qualification level

    One of a series of defined points in a qualifications framework that are numbered in ascending order. Qualifications within the same level share characteristics and require similar achievement. Qualification levels in different frameworks can be compared. Qualification levels are distinct from credit levels.

  • qualifications framework

    A formal structure identifying qualification levels in ascending order and stating the requirements for qualifications to be awarded at each one. In UK higher education ‘the Qualifications Frameworks’ refers specifically to the Frameworks for Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies, which form part of the Quality Code, Part A.

  • quality

  • quality assurance

    The systematic monitoring and evaluation of learning and teaching, and the processes that support them, to make sure that the standards of academic awards meet the Expectatio​ns​ set out in the Quality Code, and that the quality of the student learning experience is being safeguarded and improved.​

  • Quality Code

    Short term for the UK Quality Code for Higher Education, the UK-wide set of reference points for higher education providers which states the Expectations that all providers are required to meet. It was developed with the higher education community and is owned, maintained and published by QAA.

  • Quality Enhancement Framework

    A formal structure for enhancing the quality of higher education in Scotland, jointly developed and maintained by a partnership between the Scottish Funding Council, Universities Scotland, QAA Scotland, the National Union of Students (Scotland) and the Higher Education Academy. The framework comprises five main elements: institution-led reviews, Enhancement-led Institutional Review, public information, student engagement and a programme of Enhancement Themes.