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The QAA's consultation on a draft operational description for a new method for reviewing higher education institutions in England and Northern Ireland, to apply from academic year 2011-12, was published on 1 October 2010 and will run until 26 November 2010.

Responses are important because the current cycle of audit by QAA comes to an end in summer 2011 and a new system needs to take its place. It is essential that we have a robust method for quality assurance in higher education institutions in place for 1 August 2011.

Two further consultations are planned:

  • HEFCE, UUK and GuildHE will publish a joint consultation in late November or early December 2010 on changes to the information that institutions publish about HE. This will run until March 2011.
  • QAA will consult the sector from late November 2010 on revisions to the UK-wide Academic Infrastructure.

The Browne Review 'Securing a sustainable future for higher education in England' includes proposals on regulation, assurance of the quality of courses, access to high-quality information, and helping students make the right choices.

Many of the issues covered by the Browne Review correspond with the principles already agreed for the quality assurance system on which we are consulting, including the importance of a student-centred approach, the provision of high-quality information, and the need to maintain and enhance quality provision.

Responses to the consultations will also be helpful in informing the development of further proposals which may follow in the Government's HE White Paper this winter, and the subsequent broader HE bill. It is important to know the views of institutions, students and other stakeholders, to ensure a strong body of evidence on which to base decisions in the future.