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We can consider concerns about academic standards and quality in Scottish Higher Education institutions (HEI) raised by students, staff and other parties through our Scottish Quality Concerns Scheme. Complaints or grievances should be raised directly with institutions for consideration through their internal mechanisms. Ultimately, and if necessary, complaints or grievances should be directed to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

What is a concern?

We use the term 'concern' to mean a serious issue about how HEIs manage their academic standards, the quality of learning opportunities and/or the information that they make available about their provision.


Where there is the potential for the matter raised to be systemic, the person raising the concern will be notified and the matter will proceed to a Concern Assessment. The purpose of the Concern Assessment is to determine the action that will be taken.


The aim of the Scottish Quality Concerns Scheme is to promote public confidence in the Scottish university sector by offering a responsive means for exploring concerns brought to QAA Scotland's attention outside the regular review arrangements.

Which higher education providers are covered by the scheme?

We can consider concerns about:

  • university sector HEIs in Scotland
  • courses provided by the Scottish university sector HEIs, whether delivered by the HEIs directly or through working with other organisations and partners in the UK or overseas
  • HEIs that have entered the detailed scrutiny stage of an application for degree awarding powers or university title.

What can we consider?

We can consider:

  • concerns about academic standards and quality, where we think these raise broader issues about the management of quality, standards and/or the information HEIs make available about their provision.

We will only look at concerns we think indicate serious systemic weaknesses in the HEI's approach to the management of quality and standards. Information about isolated mistakes or occurrences of bad practice, or unverified anecdotes or hearsay, will not normally be sufficient to trigger further action.

How do I raise a concern?

Those raising concerns should first raise the issue(s) directly with the HEI through its internal procedures to give the institution the chance to resolve the matter. Submissions to the Scottish Quality Concerns Scheme must be made using the submission form and accompanied by documentary evidence to justify any inquiries to the relevant HEI. When raising a concern, it is helpful to consider making a request under the Freedom of Information Act or by means of a Subject Access Request to the HEI to get information to support the submission.

Guidance and submission form

Scottish Quality Concerns Scheme

Publication date: 03 May 2023

Submission form - Scottish Quality Concerns Scheme

Publication date: 03 May 2023

Targeted Peer Review Process

Publication date: 03 May 2023

Student guide


This resource has been developed by sparqs to provide some context for students around the Scheme and the published guidance. It outlines where and when the Scheme is the appropriate route for concerns and provides examples of issues that are eligible for consideration under the Scheme. 


Scottish Quality Concerns Scheme in Context: Student Guide

Publication date: 27 Sep 2022

Summary report

Below you will find a summary report on the Scottish Quality Concerns Scheme in AY 2022-23 (1 August 2022 to 31 July 2023).

Scottish Quality Concerns Scheme AY 2022-23 - Summary report

Publication date: 31 Jan 2024

What happens next?

QAA Scotland will undertake an eligibility review to determine whether the concern is within scope of the Scheme. The person(s) raising the concern may be asked for additional information to support this screening process. If the concern is deemed to be in scope, QAA Scotland will inform the person(s) raising the concern and explore further with the relevant HEI.


The person raising the concern will also be updated with a summary of action taken.


Concerns may trigger a targeted peer review and QAA publishes all reports of these reviews as well as publishing an annual summary report of quality concerns.