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Quality control

Joanna Forbes asks what happens next to quality and standards in English higher education

The decision in 2022 by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) to withdraw from its role as the designated quality body (DQB) has caused concern throughout the higher education sector. It has particularly worried independent providers seeking registration with the Office for Students (OfS) or applying for degree-awarding powers (DAPs).

Under the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, the secretary of state has the power to appoint a designated body to assess the quality and standards of education delivered by registered providers. On the recommendation of the OfS, the QAA was designated by the secretary of state in 2018 as the assessment body to perform two assessment functions. First, assessing the quality of and standards applied to higher education provided by English higher education providers, and, particularly, to enable the OfS to determine whether applicants and registered providers meet the initial and ongoing conditions of registration. Then, advising the OfS in decisions as to the authorisation, variation or revocation of DAPs.

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