http://www.hefce.ac.uk/i/hefce.gifHEFCE has a statutory duty to ensure that the teaching provision it funds with public money is of good quality.
In common with the other UK funding bodies, we discharge this duty by contracting the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) to devise and implement quality assurance methods. The QAA is therefore responsible for reviewing the quality of all publicly funded higher education (HE) teaching provision in England on behalf of HEFCE, in both higher education institutions (HEIs) and further education colleges (FECs).
The QAA carries out two methods of quality assurance in England:
* institutional audit in HEIs, including separate collaborative provision audits of large or complex provision. The institutional audit cycle commenced in 2005-06 and will run up to 2010-11.
* Integrated Quality and Enhancement Review (IQER) of HE delivered in FECs. This review method commenced in 2007-08 and will continue up to 2011-12.
With the QAA we are now beginning to consider the review method to be used for HE in FECs after 2011-12. In doing so we have undertaken a formal assessment of the impact it will have on the HE sector in terms of regulatory burden, equality and diversity, and sustainable development.
Sector impact assessment: Integrated Quality and Enhancement Review 2012-13 onwards [Adobe PDF]

The QAA has developed a means of describing academic standards called the Academic Infrastructure, which underpins these quality assurance processes. This sets out clear and explicit standards for HE, for public information, and is a point of reference for other quality assurance processes. The infrastructure includes:
* frameworks for HE qualifications
* subject benchmark statements
* programme specifications
* the code of practice for the assurance of academic quality and standards in HE.
The QAA's role includes providing advice to the Minister for Higher Education when institutions make applications for the grant of taught degree-awarding powers, research degree-awarding powers and university title. Guidance for applicant organisations is available. Further information can be found on the QAA web-site.
Contract with the QAA

HEFCE has an annual contract with the QAA. As well as setting out the institutions to be audited or reviewed in that year, the contract also includes details of the regular information to be provided to HEFCE by the QAA and the standards of conduct expected by the two organisations. Contract for Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education [Adobe PDF].
QAA and Europe
The QAA is a member of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA). In 2008 it underwent a review to maintain its membership and ascertain that the UK quality assurance systems adhered to the European Standards and Guidelines. For further information on HEFCE's work with the QAA contact Emma Creasey, e-mail e.creasey@hefce.ac.uk, tel 0117 931 7225.