Quality Assurance Agency (QAA)

The Quality Assurance Agency is an independent, registered charity and business, that is responsible for ensuring the quality of higher education courses in British Universities. 

What does the QAA do?

They set and monitor standards of UK higher education, including the development of the UK Quality Code for higher education. The Quality Code for Higher Education is a key reference point for Universities to see what is expected from them and each other, and to ensure quality across the sector.

  • The QAA sets and monitors standards for access to HE Diploma courses. You can read more about this on their Access to HE Website.
  • The QAA provides advice and support to governments, HE Sector organisations, Universities and Colleges, on quality and standards for HE Courses.
  • The QAA advise the government on applications from organisations to become a University, and to award degrees.
  • The QAA investigate complaints about academic standards and quality from HE providers.
  • The QAA provides training and guidance to HE Providers to help them to create, improve and develop their own internal quality assurance process.
  • The QAA provides consultancy services, and training to help to improve HE Quality internationally for professionals, institutions and governments.


What can the QAA do for me and why should I know about them?

The QAA have worked with Cardiff University in some capacity to ensure the quality of your degree.

If you ever have questions about the quality of your degree, you can read their printed resources to help you to understand whether your School and the University have delivered a good quality programme. The UK Quality Code for HE is discussed further below.

Some students may find that their course does not quite live up to expectations or they may experience issues with online delivery. If this is the case for you, the Quality Code can help them to understand exactly where the University may have fallen short of expected standards. If you are submitting a complaint or an appeal to the University, it can be helpful to reference this code in your submission.

The UK Quality Code

The QAA’s UK Quality Code for Higher Education is a document produced by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), the independent body entrusted with monitoring and advising on standards and quality in UK higher education. It describes itself as a "key reference point for UK higher education, protecting the public and student interest, and championing UK higher education's world-leading reputation for quality." It is made up of a number of elements that provide a reference point for quality assurance:

Expectations for Standards

  • The academic standards of the course meet the requirements of the national qualifications framework.
  • The value of qualifications when they are awarded, and over time, is in line with sector recognised standards.

Core Practises for Standards (must be demonstrated by HE Providers).

  • The provider ensures that the standards for its qualification are consistent with the national qualifications framework.
  • The provider ensures that students have the opportunity to achieve a higher academic standard than the threshold level that are reasonably comparable with those achieved at other providers.
  • Where a provider works in partnership with other organisations, there a procedures and policies in place to ensure that academic standards are maintained. (These courses are credible irrespective of who delivers them and where).
  • The provider uses external expertise, assessment and classification processes that are reliable, fair and transparent.

Common Practises for Standards – (These practises are not required, but are common for many providers)

  • The provider will review its core practises regularly, and uses the outcomes to improve and enhance courses.

Expectations for Quality

  • Courses are well designed, provide a high quality academic experience for all students and enable student’s achievement to be reliably assessed.
  • Throughout the course, students are provided with the support that they need to succeed and benefit from higher education.

Core Practises for Quality (must be demonstrated by HE Providers).

  • A reliable, fair and inclusive admissions process
  • The provider delivers high quality courses
  • The provider has enough qualified and skilled staff.
  • The provider has sufficient/appropriate facilities, support services and learning resources
  • The provider actively engages students collectively and individually in the quality of their educational experience.
  • The provider has a fair and transparent complaint and appeals process
  • Research degrees are provided in an appropriate and supportive environment
  • Where a provider works in partnership with other providers it has arrangements in place to ensure that the academic experience is high quality, irrespective of where these are delivered.
  • The provider supports all students to achieve successful academic and professional outcomes.

Common Practises for Quality These practises are not required, but are common for many providers

  • The provider reviews its core practises for quality regularly, and uses the outcomes to make improvements and enhancements.
  • The provider approach to managing quality takes account of external expertise.
  • The provider engages students individually and collectively in the quality of their educational experience

Advice and Guidance

Advice and Guidance is written for providers on these specific areas;

Contact Student Advice

+44 (0)2920 781410