About the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA)

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) is an independent body which is responsible for safeguarding the standard and improving the quality of UK higher education.

The UK public funding body, HEFCE has a legal responsibility for ensuring that the provision they fund is quality assessed and they contract the QAA to carry out this function on their behalf. The UK Research Councils stipulate that in order to receive funding, research organisations, such as Imperial, must adopt recognised quality standards for postgraduate training at least equal to the QAA’s codes/guidance for selecting, administering and supervising students throughout their period of training.

The QAA develops and maintains national frameworks and resources which can be used by higher education providers to help them meet UK expectations about standards and quality. This includes the Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (FHEQ) and the UK Quality Code for Higher Education.

All UK institutions have their own internal quality assurance, standards and enhancement procedures based around the QAA’s expectations.  The QAA reports on how well each institution meets their responsibilities for assuring quality and standards, using processes of peer review. The QAA review involves a thorough evaluation of the institution's educational provision and results in a published report that makes judgments and recommendations about academic standards and quality, as well as highlighting good practice. 

Prior to 2011-2 the QAA’s review method was the 'Institutional Audit' and from September 2011, this was replaced by the 'Institutional Review'.  In 2013/14 the QAA introduced the Higher Education Review.  The QAA’s reviews typically take place every 6 years and the QAA actively involves students in this work, appointing a student to every review team and encouraging students to express their views.

Institutional audit 2010

The College's most recent review was in 2010, the review method at this time was institutional audit. The findings were published in August 2010.

Following an institutional audit the QAA judge whether they have confidence, limited confidence or no confidence in the soundness of the institution's management of academic standards and of the quality of learning opportunities. Following the College's review in 2010 the QAA judged that:

"Confidence can reasonably be placed in the soundness of the institution's present and likely future management of the academic standards of its awards and confidence can reasonably be placed in the soundness of the institution's present and likely future management of the quality of the learning opportunities available to students"

The QAA also made recommendations which suggested ways in which the College may improve the management of quality and standards. The College produces an annual update outlining the progress made on these recommendations as part of the College's action plan.

Read the full report from the QAA

Read the College's Institutional audit action plan [pdf]