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Welcome to our blog, where guest authors and QAA specialists discuss issues which really matter for our sector, in the UK and around the world.

Working in partnership with students to transform academic tutoring

15 August 2019

Cindy Isherwood, Project Officer, Academic Tutor System Implementation Project and Jess Johnson, Teaching and Learning Project Manager, University of Reading

Academic or personal tutoring is a key component of the student learning experience at university, as it has been at Reading for many years. Tutors act as a key contact for their tutees, establishing relationships that help engender a sense of belonging, which is so important for student engagement, retention and success.

QAA is changing, here's why

10 July 2019

Douglas Blackstock, Chief Executive, QAA

QAA is changing. As political devolution deepens and broadens across the UK, the approaches to assurance, enhancement and regulation change too. QAA itself continues to evolve, working across all nations in our ongoing mission to protect academic standards and the quality of the higher education experience.

Only connect: The value of international engagement for UK HE

17 June 2019

Fabrizio Trifiro, International Manager, QAA

EM Forster’s phrase ‘only connect’ is much quoted in relation to the importance of personal relationships, but it applies equally to our professional connections as well.
At the end of March, two important international quality events took place in Sri Lanka, hosted by the University Grants Commission - the annual conferences of INQAAHE and the Asia Pacific Quality Network (APQN).

Determination and pride: 40 years of Access to HE

15 May 2019

Julie Mizon, Access to HE Manager, QAA

For Sabine, it's the bridge to a lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. For Paula, it's an ongoing struggle, but will be worth it. And for Tommy, it quite simply saved him.
Access to Higher Education (Access to HE) is a qualification which prepares students without traditional qualifications for higher education studies. It makes a significant contribution to widening participation and it can genuinely change lives.

Bringing Students to the Table

30 April 2019

Matt Adie, Co-Chair, Student Strategic Advisory Committee, QAA

Back in 2004, I was elected to my primary school’s Pupil Council as the class representative for Primary 5A. Setting aside the Great House Points Fiasco of January 2005, it would be fair to say this wasn’t the most challenging or contentious of roles. Our discussions largely focused on the lack of decent felt-tip pens or making frequent requests for extended lunchbreaks – all of which were duly rejected. There were certainly no UK-wide policy frameworks for us to wade through, or statutory consultations to decode and answer.

Postcard from our latest PSRB Forum

24 April 2019

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.

Halfway up the stairs: A progress report on the current Enhancement Theme in Scotland

16 April 2019

Ailsa Crum, Head of Quality and Enhancement, QAA Scotland

Fans of A A Milne will understand that right here, halfway through the current Enhancement Theme in Scotland, is an ideal place to sit and consider the steps we've taken towards our goal of improving the student experience.

What we mean when we talk about quality assurance of 'UK HE'

9 April 2019

James Harrison, Policy Officer, QAA

The term 'UK HE' is used a lot but, in a devolved system, what does it actually mean when it comes to quality assurance?
QAA was founded in 1997 and, today, we're the independent quality body for the UK, across its four nations. In the years since 1997, there have been fundamental shifts in how higher education policies and practices work, as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland became devolved from central government.

Combatting essay mills and academic misconduct

2 April 2019

Gareth Crossman, Head of Policy & Public Affairs, QAA

You don't usually expect university leaders to draw attention to issues that might carry reputational risk for them. So when 45 Vice Chancellors and sector representatives wrote to the Secretary of State for Education last year, asking him to act against essay mills, it was a telling moment. To their credit, the signatories were aware that cheating in higher education is a significant and, it appears, growing problem. A few years ago, they might have been reluctant to draw attention to the possibility of cheating at their institutions.