The Higher Education Research Act 2017 (HERA) gives us powers to assess the quality and standards of academic experience at English higher education providers that are:
- seeking registration
- seeking degree awarding powers (DAPs)
- delivering end-point assessments for integrated higher and degree apprenticeships.
We also assess the quality and standards of registered providers to ensure they continue to meet the minimum requirements set out in our ongoing conditions of registration for quality and standards.
Details of our requirements for these assessments are set out in Regulatory advice 3 and operational guidance.
See our guidance on external quality assurance of apprenticeship end-point assessments.
Designated quality body (DQB)
HERA also sets out provision for a body to be designated (known as a ‘designated quality body’ or ‘DQB’) to perform the assessment functions on our behalf and to provide us with advice in relation to providers who are seeking registration or DAPs.
There is currently no DQB in place, so from 1 April 2023 we took on the quality and standards assessments previously carried out by the DQB, including the DAPS assessments.
We will continue to discuss arrangements about the performance of the assessment functions with sector representative groups, keeping universities and colleges informed.
Using expert academic judgement
We recognise the importance of independent academic judgement in quality assessment. The advice of our independent academic assessors informs our regulatory decisions about a provider’s compliance with our quality and standards conditions and helps us determine what action, if any, we should take as a result.
We have a large pool of academic assessors and we continue to expand this pool as we take on additional assessment activities previously undertaken by the DQB. These academic assessors are expert practitioners drawn from a broad range of providers with varied subject specialist expertise.
Our Quality Assessment Committee (QAC) will continue to play a key statutory role in providing independent advice and expertise about how we deliver the assessment functions. The QAC comprises independent members with experience of the provision of higher education. The QAC will also provide us with advice to inform our decisions in granting DAPs.