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Access to HE Grading Scheme Review - feedback survey launched

Date: May 10 - 2022

As part of the management of the Recognition Scheme, QAA commenced a review of the Grading Scheme for the Access to HE Diploma in 2018. In February 2020, the review was paused to allow a short period of reflection and then put on hold to focus on the development and implementation of the Extraordinary Regulatory Framework to support students during the pandemic.

The key output of the previous review, at the time the review was paused, was a realignment from the seven grade descriptors currently in use, which can be applied in various combinations to individual graded units, to three grading standards that are applied to all graded units. At the time the review was paused the three grading standards were in development and were being tested and refined. However, this phase of the review remains incomplete, and the grading standards had not been agreed or published for final consultation.

The education landscape has changed significantly since 2020. In considering a return to the previous Grading Scheme Review, we need to be cognisant of relevant emerging policy changes, developments in Level 3 qualifications, the changing needs of higher education providers and employers, and the changes in learner engagement and course delivery which have been accelerated by the pandemic.

As we continue to offer and develop the Access to HE Diploma we will keep abreast of emerging policy directives for Level 3 qualifications and the changing requirements of HE providers in respect of the knowledge and understanding, application of skills and application of behaviours they seek from applicants. We shall endeavour to ensure that the outcomes of the review align to appropriate external frameworks, for example the European Qualification Framework (EQF) where the use of Knowledge, Skills, and Behaviours (also referred to as Responsibility and Autonomy) are standardised to enable greater portability of qualifications and mobility of students and employees.

QAA is currently trying to establish whether a return to the previous review at the point at which it was paused (that is, testing to develop the grading standards followed by final consultation) is still valid, or whether the education landscape has changed in such a way as to invalidate the previous outputs and initiate a new review. 

We have provided a survey to collect feedback. This will be collated and feed into the direction of the review and/or any future proposals as appropriate. Links to relevant information are provided throughout the survey.

The survey closes at 5pm on Friday 27 May 2022.  

We will also be running a webinar to support the survey on Wednesday 18 May 2022 between 1pm and 2pm. If you would like to join the webinar, please email us at: