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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

Development and enhancement

​​QAA Scotland delivers a wide range of activities - events and publications, commissioned work, films, workshop materials and resources - to support the development and enhancement of higher education.

Quality Enhancement Framework in Scotland (QEF)

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 Framework has five 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: independent external reviews run by QAA Scotland that involve all Scottish higher education institutions over a five-year cycle
  • public information about quality: the QEF both produces and draws on public information. Scotland contributes to the continuing development of public information including that available on Unistas and through the Higher Education Statistical Agency (HESA).
  • Student Engagement in quality supported by sparqs (Student Participation in Quality Scotland) (opens in new window) 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
  • our 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 Themes are part of Scotland’s commitment to excellence in higher education and to providing an outstanding student learning experience.
The work of QAA Scotland feeds into all these elements. This collaborative approach to quality has continued to evolve since 2003 and remains a defining feature of Scottish higher education. The QEF balances quality assurance and enhancement; emphases the student learning experience and embodies a spirit of cooperation and partnership. 

Enhancement Themes and Focus On​

As part of the quality enhancement framework, QAA manages the Enhancement Themes and related activity. The Themes aim to enhance the student learning experience by identifying specific areas for development and driving collective positive changes for students. 

Drawing on the ELIR outcomes, we also run Focus On projects which run over single academic year and aim to support institutions working collectively to address recommendations and share good practice identified in ELIR. 

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 related activity.

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