In our mission to safeguard standards and improve the quality of UK higher education, we work in close partnership with a wide range of higher education providers. All publicly funded higher education institutions in the UK subscribe to us and pay an annual fee, as do some that are not publicly funded. From August 2013, all colleges providing directly funded higher education in England will also become subscribers. These subscriptions enable us to fulfil our role in protecting the reputation of UK higher education. Our work is of benefit to the whole higher education sector, though subscribing institutions also receive additional benefits.
Find out who can become a subscriber, and how.
Find out about services we provide to subscribers and their partners.
Below is a summary of our work across the sector.
Services to UK higher education
We fulfil our role protecting the reputation of UK higher education as follows.
- We ensure there are clear UK-wide expectations of the way institutions manage quality and standards. These are agreed by the higher education sector, and both reinforce the autonomy of awarding institutions and ensure comparability across institutions against an agreed standard.
- We provide the public with assurance that institutions manage quality and standards in accordance with sector-wide expectations.
- We ensure that we work with students as partners, whether in strategic or policy development, devising or refining expectations, or conducting reviews.
- We support universities and colleges as they aim to meet and shape students' expectations, ensuring that students are involved in each institution's governance and management of standards, quality and information.
- We publish review reports, explaining our findings clearly. Our reviews are conducted by trained and experienced peers (including students), and conclude that universities and colleges do or do not meet the expectations of the sector.
- We identify where practice does not meet national expectations and provide clear direction as to what action is required, by when. We ensure that further public evidence is provided that the required action has been undertaken.
- We assist the Privy Council, through the provision of evidence-based advice, to ensure that institutions given degree-awarding powers or university title meet, and are likely to continue to meet, national expectations.
- We investigate complaints quickly, providing sound public evidence of our investigations into concerns that indicate systemic failure by an institution in its management of quality or standards.
- We safeguard the interests of current and prospective Access to Higher Education students by implementing an effective evidence-based regulatory regime for Access Validating Agencies.
- We drive improvements in institutions' management of standards and quality, through identifying and disseminating evidence of good practice and innovation.
- We provide research-based evidence to inform national and international policy development.