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QAA publishes review of the Glasgow School of Art

Date: April 9 - 2021

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) has today published the latest Enhancement-led Institutional Review (ELIR) report for the Glasgow School of Art (GSA).

The review concluded that GSA has arrangements for managing academic standards and the student learning experience which are of limited effectiveness. This judgement means GSA does not currently meet sector expectations in relation to the arrangements it has in place for securing the academic standards of the awards it offers and enhancing the quality of the student learning experience it provides. GSA is asked to take action in a number of areas to ensure that quality and academic standards are not put at risk in the future.

QAA officers have met with GSA staff to discuss next steps and expect GSA will develop a detailed action plan to act on the recommendations provided in the ELIR report. QAA will liaise with GSA on a three-monthly basis to monitor progress made. QAA will also work with GSA to identify an appropriate date to conduct a re-review of the School and it is currently anticipated that this will be late Spring 2022.

QAA appointed a team of six independent experts to review the Glasgow School of Art, with the review taking place in October 2020. In addition to this threshold judgement, the team made several recommendations to the Glasgow School of Art, including:

  • Ensuring that oversight and responsibility for taking action on matters of strategic priority are invested effectively in the institutional committee structure, avoiding over-reliance on individuals.


  • Continuing to embed effective arrangements for student representation and promote a culture where student representatives are involved wherever possible.


  • Ensuring that processes to align the demands of curricula and the resources available to support students are effective and equitable, while making minimum levels of studio availability and technical support clear to students before entry.


  • Implementing a systematic and effective mechanism for reviewing the contribution of the professional support services to the quality of the student experience.


  • Ensuring that there are clearer expectations for feedback practice which are implemented effectively across the institution, so that all students receive timely, relevant and high-quality formative feedback on their progress at key points during their programmes. The School is also advised to continue to develop an approach to delivering alternative assessments that can be used online if necessary.

GSA has also received commendation for its practice in areas including:

  • Its strategic and sustained commitment to widening access, through a variety of successful long-standing school and college partnerships.


  • The student support services which have been particularly effective in supporting students with the move to online provision.


  • Technology support provided by staff from the Learning Technology and Learning and Teaching teams who have worked effectively together to support the upskilling of staff in online curriculum delivery.


  • The good progress made in implementing a digital inclusion strategy to support students with the transition to a blended model of learning.


  • The progress towards decolonising the curriculum, with library staff working effectively to ensure library collections and reading lists better reflect GSA’s multicultural environment.

Professor Penny Macbeth, Director of the Glasgow School of Art, said:

‘I would like to thank the QAA and specifically the ELIR team for their report and recommendations, we clearly have some challenging issues to address and we will be working through them systematically and with rigour.

The ELIR and the external insight it brings provides us with particular focus as we build on areas where we are strong, like widening participation and student support, and address those areas which do not reflect where we should and want to be.

Addressing the areas where we are weak will require that we work together across the whole of GSA to ensure that we deliver a consistently excellent experience for all of our students.

We are committed to doing this and to working with the QAA and others to make sure we provide the best creative education and high-level Art School experience for our students.’

Alastair Delaney, Director for Scotland at QAA, said:

‘I would like to thank the Glasgow School of Art for their positive and pro-active response to this judgement. Together we are committed to ensuring students at GSA get the best experience possible, and we look forward to seeing GSA take positive steps in response to our recommendations.’