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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​​.

  • recognised bodies

    ​​Institutions that are recognised by the UK government as being entitled to award degrees and other higher education qualifications.​

  • recognition of prior learning

    (RPL) Assessing previous learning that has occurred in any of a range of contexts including school, college and university, and/or through life and work experiences. Once recognised through this process, prior learning can be used to gain credit or exemption for qualifications and/or personal and career development. This term is used mainly in relation to the Scottish higher education system, with the term accreditation of prior learning normally being used in the rest of the UK.

  • record of study

    ​A detailed record of a student's studies, provided to them when they complete (or leave) a programme, which provides evidence of their achievement including credit awarded and modules successfully completed.

  • reference points

    ​​Statements and other publications that establish criteria against which performance can be measured.​

  • registration

    ​​See enrolment.​
  • regulatory body

    ​An organisation recognised by government as being responsible for the regulation or approval of a particular range of issues. See also statutory body.​

  • Research clusters

    ​Communities of academic researchers grouped together to facilitate the sharing of resources and ideas. The arrangements may operate within a single higher education provider or may bring together researchers from a number of providers in geographical proximity.

  • research councils

    ​​The seven organisations funded by government to support research in different disciplines and to fund studentships for successful applicants wishing to undertake formal academic research.​

  • research degree

    A higher education qualification at level 7 or 8 in The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, at level 7 or 8 in the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales, and at level 11 or 12 in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.

  • research degree awarding powers

  • review

  • Review for College Higher Education

    ​​(RCHE) The review method used by QAA to check that higher education provided by colleges of further education meets the UK expectations set out in the Quality Code. ​

  • Review for Educational Oversight

    (REO) A review conducted by QAA for purposes of educational oversight as required by the UK government, which is concerned with taught higher education programmes of study at levels 4-7 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and at levels 7-11 in Scotland.​
  • review report

    ​​A document reporting in detail on a review.​

  • reviewer

    An individual employed by QAA to be part of the team that reviews a higher education provider; he/she will be a professional with current or recent experience in the higher education sector, or a current or recent student (having completed a course within the last two years).

  • Royal Charter

    A grant by the monarch, on the advice of the Privy Council, by which most older universities (established before 1992) attained their university status, which sets out the constitution and statutes – the general regulations under which the university should operate.