Northern Ireland Quality Assurance of Higher Education

Date published: 03 July 2018

A new approach to Quality Assessment was implemented in Northern Ireland and England from academic year (AY) 2017. The revised model has been developed following an extensive review of quality assessment undertaken by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Department for the Economy (DfE) in Northern Ireland, and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW).


The revised approach is designed to be proportionate, risk-based and grounded in the mission and context of an individual university or college and the composition of its student body. It will target regulatory activity on those institutions that represent greater risk to the student interest or to the reputation of the sector.

From 2016-17, the Annual Provider Review (APR) became an integral part of the revised operating model and, following the recent series of Quality Review Visits, will be the core mechanism used to assess quality in the higher education providers that we fund.

Our revised operating model is designed to be proportionate, risk-based, and grounded in the context for an individual provider and its students and the key features of the APR are:

  • it draws on existing data and information
  • indicators and metrics are used in a contextualised and rounded way
  • existing risk processes are used to make more consistent judgements about financial sustainability and good management and governance

Information on all aspects of the Revised Operating Model, Annual Provider Review and Quality Review Visits can be found within the following publications.

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