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QAA announces new ‘Designated Quality Body for England’ Board

Date: March 29 - 2022

QAA was designated as the Designated Quality Body (DQB) for England in 2018. This is the capacity in which we undertake the assessment of English higher education providers under the provisions of the Higher Education and Research Act 2017.

Since designation, we have maintained an ethical and operational divide between our DQB work and our membership activity. In order to ensure that this separation operates as effectively as possible, we have undertaken a review of our strategic and operational models.

Our review found that the ethical divide could be strengthened to protect us and providers from perceptions or instances of conflicts of interest between activities.

Following the review, QAA has announced the establishment of a new Designated Quality Body for England (DQBE) Board, which will have responsibility for overseeing the Designated Quality Body (DQB) functions in England.

The creation of the new Board is the first step in a package of measures providing enhanced assurance about the operational independence of DQB work. The separation will be more visible and transparent through a distinct brand, a separate website and the use of separate email addresses. A newly created post of Managing Director of DQB England, reporting to the new Board, will oversee the work of the team which will be called the ‘Designated Quality Body in England.’

During the review we benchmarked our practice against other organisations who hold functions in both membership and regulatory contexts, to ensure we are learning from others’ experiences, and are aligned with best practice. The new governance arrangements are consistent with approaches successfully taken in other sectors, including law, medicine, and accountancy.

The chair of the new DQBE Board will be independent of the QAA Board, and Board membership will be largely independent (for example, members will not also sit on the QAA Board).

The separation will allow us a more structured approach, with greater clarity in articulating the capacity in which we operate, and will enhance the existing divide between DQB and other organisational activity.