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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

Frequently Asked Questions

​Who can raise a concern with QAA?

Any individual or organisation anywhere in the world may raise a concern with us.

What kind of concerns can you investigate?

We can investigate concerns about standards, quality and information that higher education providers produce about their learning opportunities, with respect to providers of UK higher education. The Concerns wizard can help you identify if your concerns are something we can investigate.

Can I raise a concern about a course at a further education college?

It depends on the level of the course: if your concern is about is a higher education course, we may be able to investigate; if it is not, then we cannot investigate, but the Skills Funding Agency may be able to. The Skills Funding Agency must investigate allegations of irregularity in further education colleges. It can also investigate complaints about the quality or management of learning provision, undue delay or non-compliance with published procedures, poor administration, equal opportunities, and health and safety.

I am one of a group of students on the same course and we all have the same concerns about it. What should we do?

We can investigate concerns raised by groups of students. The documents in support of the concern need only be submitted once, but every student needs to complete and sign their own submission form to ensure we have the information we need.

Link to our Submission form

I live abroad. Can you still investigate my concern if I am not in the UK?

Yes, as long as you provide us with all your contact details. We can correspond with you via email.

I would like to take legal action against the higher education provider I am concerned about. Can you help?

No, we cannot help you with this. Our remit is to investigate concerns about academic standards and quality, and advise the relevant HE funding body if a higher education provider is not managing its responsibilities properly. We cannot compel universities or colleges to offer anyone any kind of compensation or redress, or support those raising concerns should they wish to try and do so through the courts.

My concern has been upheld and I want my higher education provider to remark my work. Can QAA make it do this?

The aim of an investigation by QAA under the Concerns Scheme is to safeguard and improve the overall quality of UK higher education by addressing weaknesses within a particular higher education provider. We cannot compel universities or colleges to take any particular action for individual students in response to our investigations.

Why can QAA only investigate concerns about ongoing issues?

We have no remit to compel higher education providers to offer complainants any kind of compensation or redress for past problems which have been rectified. Therefore, it is beyond our remit and our mission to investigate concerns about issues which have been resolved.

Can I raise concerns about a private or alternative higher education provider?

We can investigate private or alternative higher education providers which have applied to QAA for educational oversight, applied to QAA for Reviews for Specific Course Designation or those which provide higher education programmes validated by a UK university. If in doubt, please contact us.

The higher education provider I am concerned about is not one of your subscribers. What do I do?

We can investigate concerns about any provider with higher educaiton programmes validated by a UK university. If in doubt, please contact us.

I want to remain anonymous. Can I do that?

If you do not want to be identified by name during the investigation, you can tell us on the submission form. Please note that, although QAA will not disclose your personal details without your permission, by completing the submission form you give permission to QAA to discuss details of your case with the higher education provider concerned, and any other appropriate organisations that we may need to consult in the course of our investigations. It is important you are aware that we may not always be able to preserve your anonymity as you may be identifiable to the provider through the details of your submission.

What happens to the higher education provider if my concern is upheld?

We will make recommendations and agree an action plan with the provider. We will publish a report, an action plan, and a statement alongside the action plan when it is complete.

We will inform the relevant higher education funding body, which may take further action. However, we cannot compel the provider to offer you any kind of compensation or redress.

QAA assist me in obtaining refunds for tuition fees?

We do not resolve individual complaints against providers and we are unable to provide redress or compensation to any individual submitting a complaint to us. As such, we are unable to provide assistance for any claims against a provider for a tuition fee refunds.

However, we can look at individual complaints for evidence of broader failings in the management of academic quality and standards. Where we consider that these indicate serious systemic or procedural problems, we will investigate them as concerns.