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The University of Southampton
Quality Handbook

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) is an independent body which was established to safeguard standards and improve the quality of UK higher education.

The QAA is responsible for the UK Quality Code for Higher Education which contains a set of Expectations agreed by the sector and which all higher education providers are required to meet.

The QAA also publishes a range of subject benchmark statements which describe what gives a discipline its coherence and identity, and define what can be expected of a graduate in terms of the abilities and skills needed to develop understanding or competence in a particular subject. These exist primarily at undergraduate level and for the health professions although there are also a number at postgraduate level. The QAA is in the process of reviewing a number of published benchmark statements and is considering the development of new ones.

Higher education providers are responsible for ensuring the quality and standards of their provision and for providing a high quality learning experience and education for their students. How they discharge this responsibility is examined through regular audit by the QAA.

The most recent review methodology was called Higher Education Review. The review process involved the submission of a Self-Evaluation Document and supporting evidence, the submission by the Students' Union of a Student Submission and supporting evidence. A review visit was then carried out by a team of peer reviewers which included staff and a student from other higher education providers. Following the review visit, a report was published outlining the review team's conclusions.

The University’s latest Higher Education Review was completed in February 2015 and published in April 2015. The full report is available on the QAA website. Previous reviews of the University, published in 2008 and 2003, are also available on the QAA website.

Following a recent review by HEFCE, a revised operating model for quality assessment has been published and will be implemented from 2017-18 with transition arrangements during 2016-17.

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