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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

Development and enhancement

​​​​​QAA Scotland carries out an integrated range of activities and services to support the development and enhancement of higher education.​

Quality Enhancement Framework in Scotland 

QAA Scotland worked closely with the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), Universities Scotland and NUS Scotland to develop an enhancement-led approach to quality in the Scottish higher education sector. The strategy adopted has five main elements:
  • a comprehensive programme of institution-led reviews, carried out by higher education institutions with guidance from the Scottish Funding Council
  • Enhancement-led institutional review: external reviews run by QAA Scotland that involve all Scottish higher education institutions over a four-year cycle
  • improved forms of public information about quality, based on addressing the different needs of a range of stakeholders including students and employers. See the Scottish Funding Council (opens in new window)​​  for guidance on the public information requirements in Scotland
  • a greater voice for student representatives in institutional quality systems, supported by a new national development service.​ ​sparqs (student participation in quality scotland) (opens in new window), hosted by NUS Scotland, assists and supports students, students’ associations and institutions to improve the effectiveness of student engagement in quality processes and provides advice to the Scottish Funding Council and institutions on good practice in student engagement
  • a national programme of Enhancement Themes (​opens in new window), managed by QAA Scotland. The programme encourages academic staff, support staff and students to share current good practice and collectively generate ideas and models for innovation in learning and teaching.
The work of QAA Scotland feeds into all these elements. This collaborative approach to quality is unique in many respects: in its balance between quality assurance and enhancement; in the emphasis which it places on the student experience; in its focus on learning and not solely on teaching; and in the spirit of cooperation and partnership which has underpinned all these developments.​

Enhancement Themes and international benchmarking

As part of the quality enhancement framework, QAA supports programmes of national Enhancement Themes, and international benchmarking. Our wor​k in these areas aims to enhance the student learning experience by identifying specific areas for development.

Supporting enhancement​

We support the Scottish Higher Education Enhancement Committee (SHEEC) (opens in new window), which was established to oversee the programmes of Enhancement Themes and international benchmarking, and has taken forward the development of the Indicators of Enhancement (opens in new window) and work to support the development of Cultures of Quality Enhancement (opens in new win​dow) in higher education institutions.

Find out more about other areas of our development and enhancement work

  • The European Higher Education Area and the Bologna Process: we work with Universities Scotland to support the higher education sector in engaging with the Bologna Process.
  • Work-based learning: following on from the Employability Enhancement Theme, we support the higher education sector in the development and enhancement of work-based learning. We have also produced a guidebook to work-based learning, Making it work: a guidebook exploring work-based learning (PDF 894 KB)​.
  • Recognition of prior learning: we support the higher education sector in Scotland in the recognition of learners' prior formal, informal and non-formal learning, by working closely with practitioners and learning from both national and international practice.  
  • Personal development planning: we work with the Higher Education Academy and the Centre for Recording Achievement on personal development planning (PDP).
  • Working with professional bodies: we liaise with professional bodies in Scotland, particularly in the areas of work-based learning, practice-based learning and recognition of prior learning.
  • Credit, access and lifelong learning: our work includes activities originally coordinated by the Scottish Advisory Committee on Credit and Access (a joint committee with Universities Scotland that no longer meets). We also manage the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) in partnership with the Scottish Qualifications Authority, Universities Scotland, Scotland's Colleges and the Scottish Government.