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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

Concerns about providers

We work with providers of UK higher education to check that they meet UK-wide expectations regarding academic standards, the quality of learning opportunities, and the information they provide about their higher education provision. 

The recommendations within our review reports are designed to help providers address potentially problematic issues before they become serious. However, sometimes it will happen that students, staff or other parties have concerns about a provider that they believe require investigation. Where such concerns indicate serious systemic or procedural problems, QAA will investigate them in detail through our Concerns procedure

Submitting a concern to us

In the first instance, please use our interactive Concerns Wizard to determine whether we can investigate your concern. Further detail on what we can or can't investigate is shown below. You can use the guides given below to help you fill in the Concerns form

Whom we can investigate

We can investigate concerns about:

  • Alternative providers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Any higher education provider in Wales
  • Scottish higher education providers (through a separate scheme (PDF, 1KB)
  • courses delivered by third parties in the UK or abroad on behalf of providers that subscribe to us
  • providers applying for degree-awarding powers and/or university title
  • organisations that have applied to us for educational oversight or for reviews for specific course designation
  • Con​cerns about Access to HE courses.

What we can investigate

We can investigate concerns about academic standards and quality and about information that higher education providers make available about their provision, where we think such concerns indicate serious systemic or procedural problems. The formal Expectations that providers are required to meet are set out in the Quality Code.

Examples of what we can investigate include:

  • misleading information about the accreditation of a course by a professional body
  • inadequate guidance to examiners on marking examination scripts
  • inadequate support for placement learning
  • failure to follow assessment regulations
  • the failure of a provider to make available information on the aims and learning outcomes of a course
  • the failure of assessment to be robust, valid and reliable.

What we can't investigate

Examples of what we cannot investigate include:

  • matters of academic judgement, such as examination results
  • requests for institutions or external examiners to re-mark work
  • grievances against individual staff
  • issues surrounding visa rejection, tuition fees and/or refunds
  • problems that the institution has already rectified
  • isolated mistakes or occurrences of bad practice.

How we investigate concerns that are identified through our own activities

As well as investigating concerns about academic standards and quality brought to us by individuals and organisations outside QAA, we also investigate concerns identified through our own activities. These concerns might be about a single institution, a group of institutions or the higher education sector as a whole.

The procedures we use to investigate concerns identified through our own activities are the same as those we use to investigate concerns raised by individuals and organisations outside QAA. All of our investigations lead to published statements.