QAA Scotland worked closely with the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), Universities Scotland and NUS Scotland to develop an enhancement-led approach to quality in the Scottish higher education sector – the Quality Enhancement Framework (QEF). The strategy adopted has five main elements:
- A programme of reviews at subject level run by institutions themselves (known as University-led Reviews of Learning and Teaching at St Andrews).
- An institutional-level review (Enhancement-Led Institutional Review – ELIR). The University was last reviewed in 2015 when confidence was reported in all areas (the best possible result).
- Improved public information on the quality of higher education.
- A greater voice for student representatives in institutional quality systems, supported by the student participation in quality Scotland (sparqs) service.
- A national programme of developing and sharing good practice in learning and teaching in higher education (called Enhancement Themes).
In addition, a set of reference points was developed (the Academic Infrastructure), this includes the UK Quality Code as well as the SCQF and Subject Benchmark Statements. The UK Quality Code will give all higher education providers a shared starting point for setting, describing and assuring the academic standards of their higher education awards and programmes and the quality of the learning opportunities they provide. Higher education providers are expected to use it to design their respective policies for maintaining academic standards and quality.
The UK Quality Code has three Parts, on academic standards, academic quality and information about higher education provision. Each of these is subdivided into Chapters covering specific themes e.g. Learning and Teaching, External Examining. Each chapter is headed by an expectation against which each institution will be judged during ELIR; each chapter is supported by a number of indicators which provide further detail on the expectation.
At an institutional level, the Academic Monitoring Group monitors a broad range of internal review processes and structures.