QAA introduced Review for Specific Course Designation (RSCD) in 2013, to meet the new requirements for alternative providers to apply for designation of specific courses for student support purposes.
On 29 January 2015, the Minister of State for Universities and Science announced changes to the specific course designation process, including that providers will undergo Higher Education Review.
New applicants for specific course designation from 1 April 2015 will therefore undergo a Higher Education Review (Alternative Providers). Providers already in QAA's review schedule will undergo a Higher Education Review (Alternative Providers) either on the fourth anniversary of their RSCD review or earlier, if a full review is triggered through the annual monitoring process.
Information for new applicants
Providers should read the guidance note and
frequently asked questions, and refer to the Higher Education Review (Alternative Providers) Handbook carefully.
Review handbook and guidance
Higher Education Review (Alternative Providers) is QAA's principal review method for alternative providers. The Handbook gives guidance to providers preparing for, and taking part in, this type of review.
For reviews taking place
after 1 September 2016 -
Higher Education Review (Alternative Providers) Handbook (July 2016)
For reviews taking place
after 1 September 2017 -
Higher Education Review (Alternative Providers) Handbook (June 2017)
Alternative providers are required to submit an annual return each year between full reviews, and undergo monitoring visits. The guidance note sets out full details of the process: Annual Monitoring for Specific Course Designation purposes (PDF, 204KB).
Providers should complete the annual return template (see below), and return this with the data return, which will be sent to you in advance when you are advised of the date for submission:
Annex 2: Monitoring process annual return template (DOC, 32KB).
Preparing for a review
One copy of this checklist should be completed for each partnership with an awarding body or awarding organisation and sent to QAA as part of the evidence base for the self-evaluation document. Please see below for information relating to Pearson provision.
Responsibilities checklist (DOC, 37KB)
QAA and Pearson have jointly produced a standard responsibilities checklist for providers delivering Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) awarded by Pearson. QAA reviewers will use this standard checklist in respect of all such programmes, and the checklist should be submitted by providers that deliver Pearson provision.
Responsibilities checklist Pearson 2017 (DOC, 41KB)
As part of the preparation for the Higher Education Review (Alternative Providers) process, providers are usually invited to a briefing event. The presentation from the most recent briefing event can be found below, along with the Higher Education Toolkit, guidance for students, and more specific information for facilitators and Lead Student Representatives.
Alongside the information contained within the relevant review handbook, additional guidance for providers writing the self-evaluation document and Lead Student Representatives producing the student submission as part of the review process is available in the following documents.
Key reference points
Publishing information about reviews