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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

Applying to QAA

​​​​​​​Who subscribes to QAA

Publicly funded higher education institutions are required to subscribe to QAA, both through their relationship with the public funding bodies and through their membership of the higher education institutions' own representative bodies (QAA's company members).

Further education colleges providing higher education that is directly funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England are also required, through their funding agreement, to subscribe to QAA.

Non-publicly funded bodies that hold renewable UK degree awarding powers are required to subscribe to QAA as a condition of the grant of those powers.

Voluntary Subscription Status

Non-publicly funded providers of higher education that do not hold UK degree awarding powers and that wish to subscribe to QAA on a voluntary basis are required to submit an application to QAA​'s Chief Executive.

Conditions

Application for QAA Voluntary Subscriber Status is open to:

  • UK non-publicly funded providers of higher education that do not hold UK degree awarding powers, and are not required to subscribe to QAA, either through their relationship with a public funding body or through their membership of one of the sector's representative bodies (QAA's company members)
  • further education colleges that are not required to subscribe to QAA.

An applicant for Voluntary Subscriber Status must in addition:

  • be a provider of higher education or higher level learning based in the UK
  • have undergone and been successful in a review and been judged to have been making progress that is at least 'acceptable' in any subsequent monitoring visit or activity
  • have, in QAA's sole opinion, a demonstrable track record of, and commitment to, quality assurance and enhancement.

Subscriber commitments

Applicants for Voluntary Subscriber Status must commit to:

  • the submission of an annual return to QAA, including information on finance and governance
  • ongoing review and monitoring by QAA in accordance with QAA's relevant applicable review methods and procedures
  • cooperation with the QAA Concerns Scheme
  • paying all relevant subscription fees as defined below, and all relevant fees and charges for reviews and review-related activity.

The application process

Applications for Voluntary Subscriber Status should be made using QAA's application form for voluntary subscriber status (available below), and submitted to QAA's Head of Governance, together with documentation that evidences that the applicant meets the criteria outlined in clauses 5 and 6.

Completed application forms will be considered by QAA's Chief Executive and will be accepted or rejected at the Chief Executive's sole discretion. The Chief Executive's decision is final.

The Chief Executive may grant Voluntary Subscriber Status to applicants whose application demonstrates that they meet all of the criteria for Voluntary Subscriber Status as set out in clauses 5 and 6.

Candidate Status

The Chief Executive may grant Candidate Status to applicants whose application demonstrates that they substantially meet the criteria for Voluntary Subscriber Status, but that at the time of application they:

  • cannot evidence that they have undergone a QAA-approved Financial Sustainability, Management and Governance check that satisfies the eligibility requirement at clause 6b
  • cannot evidence that they have undergone a review that satisfies the eligibility requirement at clause 6c
  • (although there is some evidence of commitment to quality assurance and enhancement) cannot yet evidence the demonstrable track record requirement at clause 6d.

The conferral of Candidate Status may be granted at the Chief Executive's sole discretion, and in accordance with his reasonable judgement as to whether the circumstances of the application indicate on the balance of probabilities that the applicant will be able to fulfil the necessary criterion within the applicable timeframe specified at clause 13.

Applicants granted Candidate Status must be able to evidence that they fulfil the unmet eligibility criterion, as identified by the Chief Executive, within the time period specified​ below in order to qualify for eligibility for Voluntary Subscriber Status:

  • Unsatisfied Criterion
    6b - have undergone a QAA-approved Financial Sustainability, Management and Governance check which identified no material issues
  • Evidence required
    confirmation of completion of a QAA-approved FSMG check undertaken within the last 12 months which identified no material issues.

Period for completion of evidence required: six calendar months (from date of confirmation of Candidate Status).

Terms and conditions

For the purposes of subscriptions, the academic year runs from 1 August to the following 31 July.

Subscription rates for the 2017-18 academic year

Student numbers ​BandDescription
​Up to 1,000​A​£2,875
​1,001 to 4,000​B​£6,180
​4,001 to 7,000​C​£12,721
​7,001 to 10,000​D​£19,522
​10,001 to 15,000​E​£26,028​
​15,001 to 20,000​F​£32,536
​20,001 to 30,000​G£36,000​
​30,001 and above​H​£45,000

The subscription fees cover the costs for the subscription benefits. Review-related costs such as Higher Education Review (Alternative Providers) and annual monitoring for non-publicly funded providers are charged separately.

Student numbers

If an institution makes returns to HESA, the latest final return, as published on the HESA website, will be used to determine student numbers.

For other institutions, student number data that will be used to inform subscription rates will be as follows.

​Directly funded further education colleges in England

​Student numbers will be taken from the HEIFES 2015-16 return to HEFC​E

Directly funded further education colleges in Wales

​Student numbers for 2015-16 as provided by HEFCW

Further education colleges with indirectly funded higher education ​students (i.e. students are funded by a partner institution)

​Subscription rate is Band A, as the indirectly funded students are already included in headcount of another institution

Others

​Will be asked to confirm their higher education headcount

New subscribers

Subscriptions are payable from the earlier of:

  • QAA confirmation following an application
  • Privy Council approval for degree awarding powers
  • date requested by a funding body.

The amount payable will be prorated to 25% for each remaining qu​arter of that academic year.

Mergers

Where institutions merge during an academic year, each institution shall pay a full-year subscription, with a single subscription due from the beginning of the next academic year.

Subscription status

Subscription to QAA does not confer any legal or funding benefits or status. It is not a form of institutional accreditation.

Subscribing institutions should not describe the status of subscription in a misleading or ambiguous way in promotional or marketing material. Care should be taken to avoid anything that could lead the reader to think that subscription to QAA confers any legal or funding benefits, or that it confers degree awarding powers, or that it is a form of accreditation.


​Further information​

​Use the links below to download copies of the full criteria for voluntary subscription and the application form. If you require any assistance, please contact the Enquiries Team at enquiries@qaa.ac.uk.