When can a quality or standards issue be raised with HEFCE?
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HEFCE has established a scheme to allow issues about academic standards or the student academic experience to be raised with us. This is known as the Unsatisfactory Quality Scheme (UQS).
The Quality Code describes the standards that a university, college or other higher education provider should meet.
In order for HEFCE to investigate an issue under the Unsatisfactory Quality Scheme, the following should apply:
1. The issue relates to academic 'standards' or the 'student academic experience'
'Standards' means the level of learning a provider requires and how that compares with other providers.
'Student academic experience' means the learning experience that students receive and how they are supported to progress and succeed.
2. It is a serious 'systemic' issue which affects, or has the potential to affect, a group of students rather than just an individual
The role of the UQS is to enhance quality and standards at a sector level. HEFCE can only investigate systemic issues which affect - or have the potential to affect - a group or groups of students.
For an issue to be considered 'systemic' it must be inherent in the management of quality systems or the governance of the provider, rather than one caused by or attributed to a specific, individual or isolated factor.
3. It concerns a provider of higher education that is funded by HEFCE or the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland
HEFCE can only investigate providers that receive funding either directly or indirectly, from HEFCE or from the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland. Visit the HEFCE Register of HE providers to see which providers receive HEFCE funding.
4. The person making the submission has direct knowledge of the issue
Only students, members of staff, or those with direct knowledge or experience of the issue can make a submission to the UQS.
5. The issue has been formally raised with the provider
It is important that the provider has had the chance to address any issues at a local level before HEFCE is contacted. Correspondence with the provider that relates to raising the issue internally should be submitted as part of the supporting evidence.
6. It is less than two years since the providers internal complaints process was completed
Providers of higher education are constantly evolving organisations and over time the policies, practice and personnel may change significantly. An issue from more than two years ago is unlikely to be current practice at the provider.
7. Supporting evidence is provided
HEFCE operates an evidence based approach to the UQS and supporting evidence that substantiates the issues being raised must be submitted.
Need more information?
Download the Guidance on submitting issues:
For queries about the UQS process or to make an informal enquiry please contact the UQS team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0117 931 7381.