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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education



We investigate concerns about academic standards, quality and information that higher education providers in the UK make available.

If you are a student, member of staff, external examiner or in other ways engaged in higher education and are concerned about the standards and quality of a particular provider, we may be able to help.

How to raise a concern

Higher education students, staff and members of the public can raise concerns about higher education. Who you should contact depends on which higher education provider you have concerns about. You can use either QAA's Concerns Scheme, or HEFCE's Unsatisfactory Quality Scheme.

The Concerns Procedure
This applies to publicly funded higher education in Scotland, and to alternative providers across the UK. You can find further information on the Procedure within these pages. A separate mechanism, the Scottish Concerns Scheme, is in place for Scottish higher education, and is described in greater detail below.

The Unsatisfactory Quality Scheme
This applies to HEFCE funded higher education in England, and higher education in northern Ireland. Please see the HEFCE website and Register of Providers for more information.

Complaints about higher education institutions in Wales
There are separate procedures for complaints about publicly funded higher education providers in Wales (including concerns about quality and standards). These procedures are overseen by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW). More information about these procedures can be found here (PDF, 248KB).

Use our Concerns Wizard guide to know whether or not you have a valid concern that we can help you with. Please note, it may take a few minutes to load for the first time.

You can also consult our frequently asked questions to know more about how we deal with Concerns.

Our procedures for concerns, complaints and appeals

Our mission is to safeguard standards and improve the quality of UK higher education. One aspect of this is to investigate situations where it is suspected that a higher education provider is failing to meet the agreed Expectations set out in the Quality Code.

We use the term concerns to mean concerns about standards, quality and the information that providers make available in relation to their higher education provision. We use the term complaints to mean complaints specifically about QAA. We use appeals to mean formal objections to the outcomes of our reviews.

Raising a concern about a higher education provider in Scotland

QAA Scotland has developed the Scottish Concerns Scheme. It is intended to have a similar role to the arrangements that operate in other parts of the UK. It is not a mechanism for addressing individual complaints or grievances. These should be addressed through the institution's internal mechanisms and, ultimately, via the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (opens in new window).​

Submissions to the Scottish Concerns Scheme should be made using the accompanying submission form and must be accompanied by documentary evidence to justify any inquiries to the HEI concerned.

Referring Concerns to reviews

QAA can refer concerns identified through its Concerns Scheme to review teams for consideration. To find out more, please see the guidance document Referring concerns to reviews​.​

Complaining about QAA

We operate a Complaints procedure for anyone wishing to complain about QAA.

Appealing against the findings of QAA audits or reviews

We have an Appeals procedure for higher education providers wishing to appeal against the outcome of a review. Please note that this is separate from both the Complaints procedure (complaints about QAA) and the Concerns procedure (complaints about providers).​