The UK Quality Code for Higher Education is used to assure the standards and quality of UK higher education. It is used by UK higher education providers to ensure they are achieving the outcomes expected of them. It presents a series of reference points to help providers offer their students a high-quality experience.


Transitional arrangements


The Quality Code has recently undergone significant redevelopment. The Expectations and Practices of a new Quality Code were published in March 2018, and supporting Advice and Guidance in November 2018.

 

Transitional arrangements for moving to the new Code as a reference point for quality assessment reviews vary across the nations. Providers undergoing a review in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland will reference the existing version of the Code (below) until August 2019. Providers in England which are currently designated for student support by the Secretary of State and not yet registered by the OfS and are undergoing annual monitoring and other review-related activities will also reference the existing version of the Code until 31 July 2019.

 

All providers in England registered by the OfS will use the new Code.

UK Quality Code 2013-18

The Quality Code consists of three Parts that address academic standards, academic quality and information: Parts A, B and C.


Part A: Setting and Maintaining Academic Standards

Academic standards are benchmarks for the award of academic credit and qualifications. Providers with degree awarding powers (known as degree awarding bodies) set and maintain these standards. Part A covers what is expected of providers when they do this. It also identifies the relevant UK and European frameworks, statements and reference points. It explains how they relate to each other and how they provide a context for checking the quality of the standards.

Quality Code: Part A

Publication Date: 31 Oct 2013

Part A of the Quality Code explains how academic standards are set and maintained for higher education qualifications in the UK.

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Author: QAA
Format: PDF
Size: 375 KB

Key Resources


QUALIFICATIONS FRAMEWORK


The Qualification Frameworks set out the different levels of higher education qualifications and the requirements for each of these. There is one framework for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and a separate one for Scotland. Both are combined in one publication.



Credit

Framework


The Credit Framework provides guidance on how to use credit when designing programmes that lead to higher education qualifications.

The Frameworks for HE Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies

Publication Date: 03 Nov 2014

The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies provide important reference points for higher education providers, assisting them in setting and maintaining academic standards. The frameworks are central to the Expectation in Chapter A1: The National Level of the UK Quality Code for Higher Education that degree-awarding bodies use external UK and European reference points to secure threshold academic standards across the higher education sector. The framework document will become a reference point for the purpose of reviews carried out by QAA from August 2015.

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Author: QAA
Format: PDF
Size: 246 KB

Higher education credit framework for England

Publication Date: 15 Aug 2008

​The higher education credit framework provides guidance on the use of credit in the design of programmes leading to the main higher education qualifications awarded in England.

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Author: QAA
Format: PDF
Size: 245 KB

Characteristics Statements


Characteristics Statements describe the distinctive features of qualifications at particular levels within the Qualifications Frameworks. They describe the qualifications in terms of their purpose, general characteristics and generic outcomes, but do not include subject level detail.


Doctoral Degree Characteristics Statement

Publication Date: 10 Sep 2015

This document is a Qualifications Characteristics Statement for doctoral degrees. It describes the distinctive features of doctoral degrees in the UK. Characteristics Statements are closely linked to The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (the Qualifications Frameworks). They complement and contextualise the information provided within the Qualifications Frameworks, providing more detail about the distinctive features of qualifications at particular levels of the frameworks and/or of qualifications at any level, which are awarded in a particular way. This latest version becomes a reference point for the purposes of QAA reviews conducted from 1 August 2016. The previous edition of the Statement continues to apply to reviews conducted before 1 August 2016.

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Author: QAA
Format: PDF
Size: 413 KB

Foundation Degree Characteristics Statement

Publication Date: 10 Sep 2015

This document is a Qualifications Characteristics Statement for foundation degrees. It describes the distinctive features of foundation degrees in the UK.

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Author: QAA
Format: PDF
Size: 193 KB

Master's Degree Characteristics Statement

Publication Date: 10 Sep 2015

This document is a Qualifications Characteristics Statement for master's degrees. It describes the distinctive features of master's degrees in the UK. Characteristics Statements are closely linked to The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (the Qualifications Frameworks). They complement and contextualise the information provided within the Qualifications Frameworks, providing more detail about the distinctive features of qualifications at particular levels of the frameworks and/or of qualifications at any level, which are awarded in a particular way. This latest version becomes a reference point for the purposes of QAA reviews conducted from 1 August 2016. The previous edition of the Statement continues to apply to reviews conducted before 1 August 2016.​​​

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Author: QAA
Format: PDF
Size: 260 KB

Qualifications Involving More Than One Degree-Awarding Body

Publication Date: 03 Oct 2015

This document is a Qualifications Characteristics Statement for qualifications involving more than one degree-awarding body. It describes the distinctive features of these types of awards.

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Author: QAA
Format: PDF
Size: 304 KB

Quality Assuring Higher Education in Apprenticeships: Current Approaches

Publication Date: 13 Jul 2018

This document describes how expectations relating to the quality assurance of higher education, as set out in the UK Quality Code for Higher Education, accommodate and apply to existing and emerging UK models of apprenticeships involving higher education qualifications at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

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Author: QAA
Format: PDF
Size: 770 KB

Quality Assuring Higher Education in Apprenticeships is also available in Welsh.


Part B: Assuring and Enhancing Academic Quality

Part B is about the quality of learning opportunities that are in place. Specifically, how well these opportunities support students and allow them to get the most out of their higher education experience. Chapters in Part B follow the programme/student life cycle.


Chapters from Part B


Quality Code, Chapter B1: Programme Design, Development and Approval

Publication Date: 15 Dec 2011

This Chapter addresses the initial design and development of a programme and the processes which lead to a decision by the degree-awarding body that it may be delivered.

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Author: QAA
Format: PDF
Size: 293 KB

Quality Code, Chapter B2: Recruitment, Selection and Admission to Higher Education

Publication Date: 31 Oct 2013

This Chapter focuses on policies and procedures related to the recruitment, selection and admission of students to higher education. It offers a framework for assuring quality and provides guidance on selection and admission.

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Author: QAA
Format: PDF
Size: 325 KB

Quality Code, Chapter B3: Learning and Teaching

Publication Date: 15 Dec 2011

This Chapter focuses on the learning opportunities that higher education providers make available to students, and on the staff who teach and who support learning.

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Author: QAA
Format: PDF
Size: 342 KB

Quality Code, Chapter B4: Enabling Student Development and Achievement

Publication Date: 15 Dec 2011

This Chapter addresses the ways in which higher education providers enable students to develop and achieve their academic, personal and professional potential.

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Author: QAA
Format: PDF
Size: 329 KB

Quality Code, Chapter B5: Student Engagement

Publication Date: 05 Dec 2011

This Chapter covers student engagement at undergraduate and postgraduate level and focuses on the provision of an inclusive environment for student engagement.

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Author: QAA
Format: PDF
Size: 289 KB

Quality Code, Chapter B6: Assessment of Students and the Recognition of Prior Learning

Publication Date: 15 Dec 2011

This Chapter deals with the assessment of student learning, both learning which is achieved as part of a defined programme, and learning at the equivalent level achieved outside of this.

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Author: QAA
Format: PDF
Size: 344 KB

Quality Code, Chapter B7: External Examining

Publication Date: 15 Dec 2011

This Chapter is designed to ensure that external examining can operate in a way which is transparent, rigorous and as consistent as possible across all UK higher education institutions.

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Author: QAA
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Size: 341 KB

Quality Code, Chapter B8: Programme Monitoring and Review

Publication Date: 15 Dec 2011

This Chapter discusses the mechanisms higher education providers use to monitor a programme once it is running, and to determine how it can be improved. It also addresses the closure of existing programmes.

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Author: QAA
Format: PDF
Size: 294 KB

Quality Code, Chapter B9: Academic Appeals and Student Complaints

Publication Date: 15 Dec 2011

This Chapter sets out principles for addressing academic appeals and complaints by students about the quality of learning opportunities at higher education providers

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Author: QAA
Format: PDF
Size: 286 KB

Quality Code, Chapter B10: Managing Higher Education Provision with Others

Publication Date: 15 Dec 2011

This Chapter is based on the key principle that the delivery of learning opportunities with others should widen learning opportunities without prejudice to the academic standards and quality of the award

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Author: QAA
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Size: 431 KB

Quality Code, Chapter B11: Research Degrees

Publication Date: 15 Dec 2011

This Chapter is about doctorates and research master's degrees. It is informed by a wider context in which UK research degrees are offered, including an environment of continuous improvement and the desire to learn from others' experiences.

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Author: QAA
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Size: 374 KB

Part C: Information About Higher Education Provision

Public confidence in higher education relies on public understanding of the achievement represented by higher education qualifications. Part C sets out the Expectation that higher education providers make available valid, reliable, useful and accessible information about their provision.


QUALITY CODE, PART C: INFORMATION ABOUT HIGHER EDUCATION PROVISION

Publication Date: 22 Dec 2011

This publication draws on apects of the former Code of Practice for the Assurance of Academic Quality and Standards in Higher Education and make reference throughout to Part A and Part B.

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Author: QAA
Format: PDF
Size: 276 KB

Subject Benchmark Statements


Subject Benchmark Statements define what can be expected of graduates in particular subject areas. They describe what graduates might know, do and understand at the end of their studies.



Additional Resources


A number of additional resources are available that provide supporting information and guidance for this Part of the Quality Code.