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Independence and impartiality are fundamental to the work of any quality body. QAA has over 25 years’ track record of best practice in this regard, and our model is widely regarded as an exemplar of good practice by quality bodies internationally.

Independence from government

QAA is an independent charity. We advise governments and funding bodies on quality matters, and we respond and tailor our work to the legislative, regulatory and policy framework in every nation where we operate – but within those frameworks we devise review methods that deliver independent evaluation and judgements. QAA’s reviews are never influenced by governments, funders or regulators. QAA is politically neutral.


Independence from providers

In line with best practice in peer review, QAA’s reviews are managed by QAA officers and led by reviewers drawn from the wider sector, trained by QAA in the specific review methods. We ensure that the QAA officers and reviewers have no connection with the provider under review. Our review methods respect providers’ autonomy, and are often enhancement-based; we have never hesitated to reach and publish critical judgements where we find that providers fall short, regardless of who funds our work.


Independent governance

We are accountable to our Board for the delivery of our charitable objects. All appointments to the Board are made by QAA itself. Some of these appointments follow a process of nomination by a range of external bodies, including representative bodies, funding bodies and the National Union of Students. Others follow open advertisement by QAA and typically bring expertise from outside the education sector. All Board members declare their interests, and follow best practice in managing conflicts (i.e. they recuse themselves from Board discussions where they could have, or could be perceived to have, a conflict of interest). We publish our Code of Good Practice in Governance. QAA is technically owned by its 'company members', which are sector representative bodies; this distances ownership from providers themselves, and the company members’ role is a formal one only; they exert no executive influence over QAA’s operations, and have no input into QAA’s judgements in reviews.



We publish our review methods and handbooks, and we publish our review reports, in line with standard practice internationally.


Internal governance

We have internal governance rules to ensure that information-sharing within QAA can never compromise our integrity and impartiality. For example, our review teams are completely insulated from provider-specific information we may learn in our other work. Similarly, our enhancement services can only be informed by themes emerging from our review work once the outcomes of those reviews are public, and provider-specific information held by a review team remains confidential (including within QAA) until published. When needed for specific and discrete roles, we have drawn on best practice in regulatory bodies in other sectors to enhance our internal governance arrangements so that the separation of functions is externally visible.


International good practice

QAA is a longstanding member of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education. Within Europe (but unrelated to the European Union) there is an extensive framework to ensure that quality bodies in higher education adhere to the highest standards of integrity, impartiality and independence. By demonstrating compliance with the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area, we have long maintained both membership of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), of which we are a founding member, and registration on the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education. Both demonstrate that we are internationally recognised for the way in which we hold ourselves to high standards in quality assurance.