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The new approach

We have now published a revised ‘operating model’ for quality assessment in higher education in England. 

This marks the next phase of the Quality Assessment Review begun by DELNI, HEFCE and HEFCW in October 2014 as part of each funding body’s statutory responsibility for quality assessment in higher education.

During 2016-17 we will be testing and developing aspects of the new approach with the sector and students before it is put into practice in 2017-18. 

What do universities and colleges need to do?

The new approach is published for information. We encourage institutions to read all the details we have provided and discuss them with HEFCE. 

We are putting in place transition arrangements for those providers who had been scheduled for QAA Higher Education Review (HER) during 2016-17. 

We have written to all universities and colleges with details of these arrangements and will support all providers through the process.

Guides outlining these transition arrangements for providers are now available below.

Revised operating model for quality assessment arrangements from 2016-17

Download the Revised_operating_model_for_quality_assessment_arrangements_from_2016-17 as PDF (111 KB)

Revised operating model for quality assessment transition arrangements in 2016-17: List of providers

Download the Revised_operating_model_for_quality_assessment_transition_arrangements_in_2016-17_list_of_providers as PDF (104 KB)

Guide for higher education providers that had been scheduled for QAA Higher Education Review in 2016-17 and have had two or more successful reviews

Download the QA_transition_guide_for_providers_that_have_two_or_more_successful_reviews_update as PDF (108 KB)

Guide for higher education providers that had been scheduled for QAA Higher Education Review in 2016-17 and have not yet had two successful reviews

Download the QA_transition_guide_for_providers_that_have_not_yet_had_two_or_more_successful_reviews as PDF (133 KB)

What is the new model?

The higher education sector in England has become more and more diverse.

The revised approach to quality assessment is designed to be proportionate, risk-based and grounded in the mission and context of an individual university or college and the composition of its student body.

It will target regulatory activity on those institutions that represent greater risk to the student interest or to the reputation of the sector.

The core elements

The revised operating model consists of three core elements:

  • baseline regulatory requirements, with a single gateway for entry to the higher education system and a period of closer engagement and monitoring for recent entrants
  • risk-based and context-sensitive review arrangements for established providers, with rapid, tailored intervention when things go wrong
  • protection of the international reputation of UK higher education, including the quality assurance of transnational education.

Students play a crucial role as partners in the design and operation of quality assessment arrangements. We will continue to work with students and their representative bodies as the new arrangements take shape. 

Who will operate the new approach?

Under the new approach HEFCE will deliver some activities as part of its broader role as a regulator.

For other activities, it will be more appropriate to contract one or more external organisations with the relevant expertise and experience.

To tender for this contract we have considered carefully our obligations under European Union procurement law.

We have run an open procurement process for these contracts through the Official Journal of the European Union.

We have now announced preferred bidders following the tender exercise.

See the invitation to tender

Contact information

Publicly funded providers should contact their HEFCE regional consultant

For other queries contact the Quality Assessment Review team 

Institutions and organisations in Wales should contact

Institutions and organisations in Northern Ireland should contact

Page last updated 22 July 2016

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