University reviews

The university quality arrangements are currently being reviewed (alongside the college arrangements) as part of the SFC Review of Coherent Provision and Sustainability. The review includes moving towards a tertiary approach to quality, which is currently being developed.  More information on this can be found on our SFC Review webpage, which contains a number of briefing notes for both staff and student officers, including a briefing summarising the current quality arrangements for universities for 2022-2024, which remains separate from the college arrangements for the next two academic years while the tertiary approach is developed.  The full SFC guidance to colleges and universities on quality for AY 2022-23 and AY 2023-24, sets out the quality arrangements for these periods. 

Under the current review arrangements QAA Scotland will carry out two types of activities as part of the university quality arrangements: Quality Enhancement and Standards Reviews (QESR) and Institutional Liaison Meetings (ILM). Half of institutions will undergo QESR and the other half will engage in ILM.  Find out more in the sparqs briefing note linked to above. 

Universities should also continue to carry out internal Institution-led Reviews (ILRs), e.g. for subject areas, support services and cross-institutional themes.  Further information on this can be found on our ILR webpage

Previous ELIR arrangements

ELIR (Enhancement-led Institutional Review) is one of the five pillars of the university sector's Quality Enhancement Framework (QEF) of 2003. It refers to external reviews of every university, undertaken every four years by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.  ELIR cycle 4 ran between 2017-2022 and it is the final cycle under those quality arrangements.  You can find out more about ELIR on the QAA Scotland website.

After the end of ELIR 4, transition arrangements were put in place during 2021-22, during which universities hosted two institutional liaison meetings with QAA, to provide assurance to SFC on the quality of learning provision. The first liaison meetings took place between October 2021 and February 2022; the second liaison meetings took place between March and June 2022, with students’ associations required to attend the meetings.

There was much that students - particularly senior student officers with education remits - could do before, during and after the liaison meetings, and sparqs offered support in this, offering bespoke session to student officers in universities that are preparing for the meetings, as well as more detailed consultancy support where required.

sparqs also provided support by delivering informative sessions during SESN and NEON meetings, keeping students’ associations up-to-date with any changes and news from QAA, and encouraging students' associations to get in touch with their quality teams. Among relevant materials to prepare for the liaison meetings, previous materials used for ELIR reviews are still relevant, such as QAA's ‘Preparing for Enhancement-led Institutional Review’ guidance, providing advice for institutions on how to approach ELIR, and the ELIR Cycle 4 practice guide for students' association reps and staff, published by sparqs. 

There is more information about the review of the Quality Enhancement Framework and the current arrangements on our Quality Arrangements webpage.

For more information, please contact Gloria Laurini.

Student Engagement Framework

That's Quality! Colleges

15 Jul 2024

This event is a three-part package, as detailed below. ~ Part 1:  half-day college online event - Monday…


That's Quality! Universities

15 Jul 2024

This event is a three-part package, as detailed below. ~ Part 1:  half-day university online event - Monday…