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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​​.

  • UK Quality Code for Higher Education

    ​​​See Quality C​ode​. ​
  • undergraduate certificate

    A higher education qualification at level 4 in The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, at level 4 in the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales, and at level 7 in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.

  • undergraduate degree

    ​​See bachelor's degree.​
  • undergraduate diploma

    ​​A higher education qualification at level 5 in The framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, at level 5 in the Credit and qualifications framework for Wales, and at level 8 in the Scottish credit and qualifications framework. See also framework for hi​gher education qualifications and credit​ and qualifications framework​.​

  • undergraduate student

    ​​A student who has not yet gained a first degree.​​

  • unit

    ​​See module​.​

  • universities

    Independent, self-governing organisations that undertake research and teaching and are diverse in size, mission, history, and the range of subjects on offer. The first universities arose from colleges or institutions founded by groups of scholars, often with monastic connections and/or noble or royal patrons. Subsequently, universities have been established by a Royal Charter, Act of Parliament, Papal Bull or by Order of the Privy Council enabling them to develop their own programmes of study and award their own degrees. See also degree-awardingpowers.

  • university college

    A college attached to, or affiliated with, a university that lacks the right to award its own degrees.

  • university title

    ​​​The entitlement of an institution to call itself a univers​ity​.​

  • validation

    A term used by some degree-awarding bodies to mean programme approval.

  • virtual learning environment

    (VLE) An intranet or password-only interactive website giving access to learning opportunities electronically. These might include such resources as course handbooks, information and reading lists; blogs, message boards and forums; recorded lectures; and/or facilities for online seminars (webinars).

  • widening participation

    Increasing the involvement in higher education of people from a wider range of backgrounds.

  • work-based learning or workplace learning

    Learning that takes place, in part or as a whole, in the context of employment. See also placement.