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OfS and QAA agree arrangements for quality assessment in higher education

OfS and QAA agree arrangements for quality assessment in higher education

The OfS became the regulator for higher education in England on 1 April 2018, in line with the Higher Education and Research Act 2017. The Act required the appointment of an organisation to carry out quality and standards assessment functions to support the OfS’s regulatory process. QAA was designated by the Secretary of State for Education, also with effect from 1 April 2018.

A designation agreement, published today, outlines how QAA will deploy its expertise to work on behalf of the OfS and how it will be held to account for the way it performs the new functions. It details the QAA’s role in:

  • assessing the quality and standards of higher education providers
  • providing evidence to help the OfS to establish whether providers satisfy the quality conditions of registration
  • providing advice to inform the OfS’s decisions on providers’ powers to award degrees.

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of the OfS, said:

‘We are very pleased to have confirmed the arrangements with QAA. Reliable advice about quality and standards is essential for us to carry out our role effectively as regulator of higher education, and we look forward to working with QAA over the coming years.’

Douglas Blackstock, Chief Executive of QAA, said:

‘We are pleased to be working with the Office for Students in delivering innovative, risk-based quality assessment, as befits a mature, world-leading higher education system. As the UK’s independent body assessing quality and standards, we will contribute to a system that will ensure that students continue to access world class higher education, however and wherever they study.’

QAA will shortly publish a consultation on the new method for reviewing quality and standards in new providers seeking registration with the OfS.


  • The activities outlined in the designation agreement between the OfS and QAA include:
    • designing and delivering a quality and standards review method for assessing whether a higher education provider satisfies initial conditions of registration
    • designing and delivering a method to review higher education providers in relation to actual or suspected breaches of registration conditions
    • designing and delivering a quality and standards review method as part of the OfS’s approach to random sampling
    • providing advice to the OfS about applicants for new degree awarding powers and full degree awarding powers.
  • The Office for Students is the independent regulator for higher education in England. Our aim is to ensure that every student, whatever their background, has a fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers.
  • QAA is the independent quality body for UK higher education. It is a higher education charitable company. Its governance embodies co-regulation, with a board that represents all sections of UK higher education, including students, and independent board members, with their expertise in industrial, commercial, financial and professional practice.
  • See the full designation agreement.

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