Press release

million+ comment on HEFCE review of higher education quality assurance arrangements

07 Oct 2014

The university think-tank million+ has responded to an announcement by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) today (7 October) that it intends to review the approach to quality assurance in higher education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and re-tender for the service currently provided by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). HEFCE’s review is not being run in conjunction with the Scottish Funding Council which is to undertake a separate review, raising concerns that the UK-wide quality assurance system currently operated by QAA may be at risk.

Pam Tatlow, Chief Executive of the university think-tank million+ said:

“Vice-Chancellors will clearly want to be involved in this review but HEFCE needs to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. While there have been concerns about the QAA’s modus operandi, the system is certainly not broken and has the advantage of being UK-wide in scope and internationally recognised. Higher education would certainly not benefit from an Ofsted-style inspection regime and the peer-based system of reviewing quality which involves students currently provided by the QAA, has many merits”.

“Those in England who are pushing for the funding council to have more regulatory powers including taking over the functions of OFFA, risk second-guessing the outcome of the next election."

“It is not inevitably the case that HEFCE’s role as a funder will decline in England and entirely possible that the direct grant administered by HEFCE on behalf of the Government may increase with the public funding of private colleges severely curtailed."

“Combining a regulator and a funder in one organisation would be unusual. Any move to redraft the focus and remit of quality assurance in England is therefore likely to raise wider questions."


Notes to Editors
1. For further information or to arrange interviews with Professor Michael Gunn, contact Rochelle Owusu- Antwi, Press and Communications officer: | 0207 717 1658 | 07527 336795
2. million+ is a leading university think-tank. More information can be found at
3. The full HEFCE statement can be found here and the QAA response can be found here