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QAA Scotland is part of the UK-wide Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). We analyse and advise on standards and quality in UK higher education. Our mission is to safeguard standards and improve the quality of UK higher education wherever it is delivered around the world.

The QAA Scotland Strategic Advisory Committee oversees our work and provides information about the legislative, regulatory, funding and policy environment for Scottish higher education. It is made up of a Board member from Scotland, our Director of Nations and International, and external Scottish representatives and meet at least twice a year.

Find out more about our work

Watch our short videos to learn more about QAA Scotland and how we work closely with students to ensure they are at the heart of everything we do.

Our role in Scotland

We have devolved responsibilities for the work of QAA in Scotland and play a key role in the Scottish higher education sector.

We are an independent guardian of quality and standards with drive for change and development. We safeguard the public interest, the interests of students and of other external stakeholders. We support the work of our partners through peer review, quality enhancement and the student learning experience.

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How we work

Our work is enhancement-led, in line with Scotland’s Quality Enhancement Framework (QEF). We build and maintain, strong and effective relationships. We do this with universities and other higher education providers, funding bodies and students’ organisations. We share our universities’ aspirations to provide excellent learning opportunities for all students. We create innovative and tested ways to allow institutions to learn from each other.

Engaging with students is integral to what we do. Every external institutional review team includes a full student member. We also include student representatives on all our working groups and committees. We work with NUS Scotland and student partnerships in quality Scotland (sparqs).

We support Scotland’s enhancement culture and oversee the Scottish Higher Education Enhancement Committee (SHEEC) and the Teaching Quality Forum (TQF).

We aim to ensure that our work recognises international perspectives and contributions. This includes developments in the Bologna Process and across the European higher education area.

We deliver conferences and a range of other shorter events that attract many international visitors from universities and quality assurance agencies. We commission and showcase work underway in the sector, so that we can learn from national and international practice

Our main areas of work

Enhancement Themes

We manage the Enhancement Themes, a multi-year programme of work that enables the sector to explore a specific area in depth. SHEEC agree and oversee the work of the Themes in conjunction with the Theme Leaders Group (TLG).


Enhancement-led Institutional Review


We deliver the external quality review of institutions through an enhancement-led, evidence-based approach that uses peer review teams. The aims of the review are to maintain academic standards and enhance the quality of the student learning experience. We do this on behalf of the higher education sector and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).


From 2003-22, the review method used by QAA Scotland was also called Enhancement-led Institutional Review (ELIR) and went through four iterations in that period. More information about ELIR, including thematic reports, evaluation of ELIR 4, and the handbook to support submission of follow-up reports, is available on its web page. 


A new enhancement-led external institutional quality review method is currently under development and will be delivered across two phases. The peer-review element of Phase 1 is Quality Enhancement and Standards Review (QESR). Phase 2 is under development and will be implemented to coincide with the SFC’s tertiary quality arrangements.


Focus On

We manage the Focus On projects and each year we determine a topic in collaboration with SHEEC. The projects aim to support the enhancement of policy and practice in the sector. They also provide a link between the outcomes of external institutional quality review and the enhancement of practice.