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Defining and delivering an effective and inclusive digital/blended offering

About the project

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) in its guidance on quality for 2022-23 and 2023-24 identified the design and delivery of an effective and inclusive digital/blended offering as its Tertiary Enhancement Topic.

SFC asked QAA Scotland, Education Scotland, the College Development Network (CDN) and sparqs (Student Partnerships in Quality Scotland) to work together to support improvement and enhancement of practice in the Scottish tertiary sector around curriculum delivery, with the aim of delivering better outcomes for our learners.


Advisory Group Membership
Kathryn O’Loan (Chair)Director, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, QAA
Hitanshi Badani St Andrews University (student representative and Resilient Learning Communities Theme deputy student lead)
Professor Catriona BellDirector of Academic Development and Learning Enhancement, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
Professor Martha CaddellDirector, Learning and Teaching Academy, Heriot-Watt University
Robin ChandlerStakeholder Experience Coordinator, West College Scotland
Simon EarpVice Principal, Performance and Improvement, West Lothian College 
Professor Moira Fischbacher-Smith Vice-Principal (Learning & Teaching), University of Glasgow (Co-Chair of SFC’s Steering Group to provide contact point with this Group)
Fiona GrantDirector of Academic Affairs, UHI West Highland College
Natalie HayDemocracy and Representation Coordinator, University of Stirling Students’ Union
Ann HeronHead of Quality Enhancement, Ayrshire College
Simon Hewitt Principal, Dundee and Angus College (Chair of the Colleges VP Network)
Derek HorsburghSenior Policy Officer, Scottish Funding Council
Kirsten KossStudent, University of Aberdeen
Eve LewisDirector, sparqs
Robin McGregorVice Principal Curriculum & Quality, North East Scotland College 
Dr Colin MilliganSenior Research Fellow, Academic Development and Student Learning, Glasgow Caledonian University
Professor Clare PeddieVice-Principal Education (Proctor), University of St Andrews
Jonathan Rees Head of Professional Development, CDN 
Derek RobertsonAssociate Director - Learning and Teaching Academy, City of Glasgow College
Professor Alastair Robertson Pro-Vice Chancellor Learning and Teaching, Glasgow Caledonian University
Elizabeth ShevlinDeputy Director, Coherent Learning Provision, Scottish Funding Council
Katrina SwantonHead of Quality & Enhancement, Edinburgh Napier University
Charlie WilsonVice President Education, Strathclyde Students’ Union 

Work is continuing on the first cross-sector enhancement project, which is being run jointly by QAA Scotland, College Development Network, Education Scotland and sparqs, as well as the Scottish Funding Council. Many thanks to everyone who attended our event on 20 September. 


We were delighted to welcome more than 70 colleagues from colleges, universities and sector agencies as we shared and tested early findings from research conducted in session 2022-23. We captured further data at the event through a range of table-top and online activities. In the afternoon, attendees participated in a practical tabletop exercise on supporting curriculum design in mixed modes, and we are grateful to Dr Colin Milligan and Dr Fiona Kennedy from Glasgow Caledonian University for leading this. The day closed with an engaging panel session which included Colin Milligan alongside Professor Simon Thompson (University of Manchester) and Dr Sheila MacNeill (Jisc). 


Our research findings will be further disseminated in the coming months, and we will also be announcing our activity for the remainder of the academic year. 

The project findings were the focus of the first event held in Glasgow on the 20th of September. This included planning for effective digitally enhanced blended learning for Scottish colleges and universities across all SQCF levels. It explored the current picture across Scotland, shared practice and challenges, and helped colleagues plan the next steps based on project findings. We will be sharing outcomes from the event soon! 
To help kick off discussions before the event, we undertook a series of short interviews with thought leaders about blended learning and their experiences. You can watch the interviews on our video recording.  

Project aims

Each year of the project has a different aim: 

  • 2022 - 2023
    To establish what the current balance of different modes of curriculum delivery (face-to-face, blended, online, hybrid) looks like across Scotland, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between strategy, practice and the learner experience.
  • 2023 - 2024
    Building on the work undertaken in AY 2022-23 to establish the effects of different modes of curriculum delivery on learner outcomes and experience, and to facilitate regional and national conversations and the sharing of practice.

The project will be guided by four lines of enquiry:  

  1. What do institutions state they are offering?  
  2. What do learners want?  
  3. What are learners experiencing?  
  4. What does the evidence suggest is best for learning?  

The project seeks to identify the relationships between these four lines of enquiry: for example, whether there are differences between learning and teaching strategies (A) and what is being delivered (C), or between what learners want (B) and what the evidence suggests is best for learning (D). The scope of the project includes all tertiary institutions in Scotland but is limited to full-time provision at SCQF levels 4-10.

In AY 2022-23, the project predominantly involved gathering and analysing data relating to these lines of enquiry, including the learner voice. In AY 2023-24, the project will involve enhancement/change activity, using the findings from AY 2022-23 to support regional and national conversations and developments. It is anticipated that line of enquiry D (What is best for learning?) will provide the point of focus in AY 2023-24. This is where the project will begin to examine any potential impact of modes of curriculum delivery on learner outcomes, and to consider how best to equip learners to understand which modalities might best support their learning.

The project is overseen by a Steering Group with members from each partner agency involved (QAA, Education Scotland, CDN, and sparqs) and SFC’s Learning and Quality Team.

How to get involved


The QAA Scotland lead for this project is Dr Alison Eales, Quality Enhancement Specialist.


If you would like to get involved in the project, drop us an email.