Skip to main content Accessibility Statement

15 March 2021

The year ahead…


Professor John Sawkins
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Deputy Principal) Learning and Teaching, Heriot-Watt University

Professor John Sawkins is Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Deputy Principal) Learning and Teaching at Heriot-Watt University, Chair of the QAA Scotland Advisory Committee, and a QAA Board member.


The arrival of COVID-19 in early 2020 has transformed the political, economic and social environment in which our universities operate. The challenges thrown up by this global pandemic continue as public health interventions, including mass vaccination programmes, seek to ameliorate its impact on communities throughout the world.


Within Scotland the higher education sector has continued to deliver its core academic activities, embracing innovation and responding to the unfolding challenges with agility and resilience. Collegiality and a commitment to offering support to one another have more than ever characterised the work and enabled the completion of a number of important sector-wide initiatives. These have included the 2017-20 Enhancement Theme Evidence for Enhancement, Enhancement-led Institutional Reviews (ELIR), and the 2019-20 Focus On project Technology Enhanced Learning, as well as ensuring a strong sector voice in quality discussions at UK level.


Looking ahead to 2020-21 the sector will complete the ELIR 4 cycle of reviews, begin its new Enhancement Theme Resilient Learning Communities and work closely with the Scottish Funding Council on its Review of provision. As we emerge from lockdown and other COVID-19 related restrictions, QAA Scotland’s commitment to working collaboratively with stakeholders and partners within Scotland, the UK and internationally will once again be critical to the success of the sector.


As Chair of the QAA Scotland Advisory Committee, I look forward to working with the team to ensure Scotland’s distinctive enhancement-based approach to quality continues to evolve to meet the new challenges and opportunities of 2021.