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The committee will provide sector-led oversight of those aspects of quality assessment arrangements that continue to be shared across the UK. It will play a key role in promoting quality, standards, and the student interest, and will support a co-regulatory approach by bringing together academic expertise and students with regulatory and other bodies.

The committee will confirm the baseline regulatory requirements that will underpin the new quality assessment model being implemented in England and Northern Ireland from 2016 (Note 1). It will also work with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) to develop the Quality Code as an important UK-wide reference point for quality and standards.

The committee will act as the sector-led steering group for a number of activities set out in the new operating model for quality assessment that extend beyond England and Northern Ireland:

  • ensuring the reliability of degree standards (including projects on developing training for external examiners, approaches to the calibration of standards, and a review of degree classification algorithms)
  • exploring the support required by governing bodies as they exercise effective oversight of academic governance
  • developing a strategic understanding of transnational education (TNE), including through review of TNE activities to ensure that students studying for a UK higher education qualification overseas receive a high-quality academic experience, and that the reputation of the UK higher education system as whole is protected.

The Higher Education and Research Bill is currently before Parliament. Subject to the will of Parliament, it will deliver the legislation necessary to build a new risk-based regulatory framework and a new Office for Students in England (Note 2). The Government has also recently published a technical note on market entry and quality assurance under the new risk-based regulatory framework [Note 3]. We anticipate that the new regulatory regime will build on, and learn lessons from, the work of the committee. 

Professor Wathey said:

‘I am delighted to be appointed to the role of Chair of the Standing Committee for Quality Assessment, and I look forward to working in this new collaboration with colleagues across the growing landscape of sector stakeholders, and from government, on a UK-wide basis.

‘The committee has an important part to play in making co-regulation, and the co-ownership of quality and standards governance, a reality, and to promote the student interest from this standpoint. It also has a part to play, working collaboratively and alongside others, to help protect the international reputation of UK higher education, and to encourage proportionate and low-burden approaches to regulation.’

Read further information about the committee

See information about how the committee will support the new approach to quality assessment in England and Northern Ireland can be found in the revised operating model for quality assessment.

Professor Wathey is Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University, and formerly Senior Vice-Principal at Royal Holloway, University of London. He has served on a number of national bodies and committees, currently chairs the Student Loans Company Stakeholder Forum, and serves as a Board member for the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and the QAA.

Notes

1. ‘Revised operating model for quality assessment’ (HEFCE 2016/03)

2. Read the Higher Education and Research Bill

3. Read the technical note on Market Entry and Quality Assurance

Contacts