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Postcard from our latest PSRB Forum


Maureen McLaughlin
Head of Universities & Standards, QAA

What is a PSRB (not to be confused with Spanish musician PBSR)? For those of you not familiar with the term, PSRBs are a diverse group including professional bodies, regulators and those with statutory authority over a particular profession.

For the last five years, we’ve been running an extremely popular PSRB Forum twice a year. The latest event took place at the end of March in Bloomsbury in the heart of London, attended by over 70 delegates both from PSRBs and higher education providers.

PSRBs engage with the higher education sector through approval, recognition and accreditation of HE programmes. Through these events, we aim to share intelligence and best practice, and to discuss current issues and challenges. 

The Forum really comes to life when sessions are led by our PSRB colleagues, who stimulate debate and discussion about current practice and challenges within the PSRB community.

This time, we heard from Lily Lipman and Dr Linda Prescott-Clements from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) about the cathartic and energising experience of their recently successful accreditation by the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA). It was particularly encouraging to hear about the impetus this has given to enhancing student engagement across the RCVS. QAA was pleased to participate in this exercise as an external stakeholder.

Later, Zara Green, Manager of the Centre for Professional Qualifications at UK NARIC, shared some timely reflections on the implications of Brexit for professional recognition. We learnt about the differential impact of Brexit (with and without a deal), the challenges those scenarios present, as well as steps already taken to have working systems in place to ensure the UK maintains positive relationships. 

We also heard from Alan Jones, President Elect of RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects) who discussed the demands, pressures and priorities of higher education and the architects’ profession in the UK. Alan also challenged us to make the best possible use of Subject Benchmark Statements as a positive force for maintaining high standards.

At this event, we talked about a range of developments for QAA, including the impact of becoming the designated quality body for England, our imminent move to a membership model, our work in support of HE in apprenticeships and the growing importance of the apprentice voice in quality assurance, and planned work on Subject Benchmark Statements.

The PSRB Forum is a great platform for information exchange and, at past events, we’ve been joined by colleagues from other organisations or government departments, seeking the views of the PSRB community on important policy developments. We’ve also formed a positive working relationship with the Professional Associations Research Network (PARN),  a not-for-profit membership organisation for professional bodies, which offers expertise and perspective on key issues in the sector through the lens of research, networking and training.

The Forum continues to be a beacon for those interested in the positive role of PSRBs in the UK HE quality assurance landscape, the exchange of insights on the challenges faced by all of us, and the good practice developed.

We plan to hold our next event in November 2019 and we’ll be developing the next agenda with our PSRB colleagues in the coming months. If you’d like more information about our Forums, contact Amy Spencer at QAA