The Quality Code is a key reference point for UK higher education, protecting the public and student interest, and championing UK higher education's world-leading reputation for quality. It enables providers to understand what is expected of them and what to expect from each other. It has been developed by QAA on behalf of the UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment, in consultation with the higher education sector.
Transitional arrangements for moving to the new Quality Code as a reference point for quality assessment reviews vary across the nations. Providers undergoing a review in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland will reference the previous version of the Quality Code until August 2019. Providers in England currently designated for student support by the Secretary of State and not yet registered by the Office for Students (OfS) and undergoing annual monitoring and other review-related activity will reference the previous version of the Code until 31 July 2019.
All providers in England registered by the OfS will use the new Code.
Expectations - express the outcomes providers should achieve in setting and maintaining the standards of their awards, and for managing the quality of their provision. They are mandatory requirements for all UK providers.
Core practices - represent effective ways of working that underpin the delivery of the Expectations and result in positive outcomes for students. They are mandatory requirements for all UK providers.
Common practices - focus on enhancement. They are mandatory requirements for all providers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In England, providers may wish to work towards these, but are not required to do so as they are not regulatory requirements and will not be assessed as part of the OfS's regulatory framework.
Advice and guidance - made up of sector-developed themes, designed to support providers in developing and maintaining effective quality assurance practices. This is not mandatory for providers, but illustrative of a range of possible approaches.
The Expectations and Practices
Expectations for Standards
- The academic standards of courses meet the requirements of the relevant national qualifications framework.
- The value of qualifications awarded to students at the point of qualifications and over time is in line with sector-recognised standards.
The provider ensures that the threshold standards for its qualifications are consistent with the relevant national qualifications frameworks.
The provider ensures that students who are awarded qualifications have the opportunity to achieve standards beyond the threshold level that are reasonably comparable with those achieved in other UK providers.
Where a provider works in partnership with other organisations, it has in place effective arrangements to ensure that the standards of its awards are credible and secure irrespective of where or how courses are delivered or who delivers them.
The provider uses external expertise, assessment and classification processes that are reliable, fair and transparent.
The provider reviews its core practices for standards regularly and uses the outcomes to drive improvement and enhancement.
Expectations for Quality
- Courses are well-designed, provide a high-quality academic experience for all students and enable a student's achievement to be reliably assessed
- From admission through to completion, all students are provided with the support that they need to succeed in and benefit from higher education.
The provider has a reliable, fair and inclusive admissions system.
The provider designs and/or delivers high-quality courses.
The provider has sufficient appropriately qualified and skilled staff to deliver a high-quality academic experience.
The provider has sufficient and appropriate facilities, learning resources and student support services to deliver a high-quality academic experience.
The provider actively engages students, individually and collectively, in the quality of their educational experience.
The provider has fair and transparent procedures for handling complaints and appeals which are accessible to all students.
Where the provider offers research degrees, it delivers these in appropriate and supportive research environments.
Where a provider works in partnership with other organisations, it has in place effective arrangements to ensure that the academic experience is high-quality irrespective of where or how courses are delivered and who delivers them.
The provider supports all students to achieve successful academic and professional outcomes.
The provider reviews its core practices for quality regularly and uses the outcomes to drive improvement and enhancement.
The provider’s approach to managing quality takes account of external expertise.
The provider engages students individually and collectively in the development, assurance and enhancement of the quality of their educational experience.
Advice and Guidance
The Advice and Guidance is divided into 12 Themes that will support new and existing providers to meet the Expectations and Core and Common practices of the Quality Code. They include guiding principles, practical advice and useful resources, based on the experience of a wide range of providers.
Quality Code Animation
Our animation provides an introduction to the new UK Quality Code. It explains what the Quality Code is, how the Expectations, Practices, and Advice and Guidance fit together, and how each element should be used by providers in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
To accompany the launch of the Advice and Guidance, we also produced a short film explaining more about the how the UK Quality Code was developed. 133 writers from across the higher education sector and beyond contributed to the creation of the Advice and Guidance, representing 91 providers and organisations. This film showcases how and why some of these writers got involved, highlighting the importance of cross-sector collaboration.