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Last updated on Tuesday 18 Apr 2023 at 1:00pm
This is our response to the Department for Education (DfE) consultation on the de-designation of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) as the Designated Quality Body (DQB) in England.
Following the decision of the QAA to no longer consent to be the DQB in England, we agree with the decision to remove the designation. This means quality and standards assessments will be carried out in full by the Office for Students (OfS) from 1 April 2023 on an interim basis.
Whether quality and standards are assessed by a DQB or through the OfS, students can be confident that the vast majority of university courses in England, as elsewhere in the UK, are high quality. Universities regularly review their courses against a range of metrics and sector-reference points and incorporate new innovations into teaching and learning.
However, we are concerned that the de-designation could exacerbate a perception of difference in the ways in which quality and standards are upheld across the nations of the UK.
We are asking the OfS and DfE to work constructively with the funders and regulators of higher education in the devolved nations to protect the strength and reputation of the sector across the whole of the UK.
We are also asking the OfS and DfE to monitor what the de-designation means for England’s alignment with the European Standards and Guidelines for quality assurance. The OfS should be seeking to secure alignment.
It remains our strong view that the best model for the long-term future of quality assurance in England is to have a DQB that works with but is independent of the OfS.
We are therefore calling on both the OfS and DfE to commit to and publish a clear timetable for when and how a review of the interim arrangements will take place.