College reviews

The college quality arrangements are currently being reviewed (alongside the university 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 colleges for 2022-2024, which remains separate from the university arrangements for the next two academic years while the tertiary approach is developed.  For academic year 2023-24, there is some additional guidance for colleges, which is summarised in a new briefing. 

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. 

During 2021-22, all colleges hosted a Progress Visit carried out by a team consisting of their Education Scotland HMI (His Majesty’s Inspector), a Student Team Member (STM) and Associate Assessors (AAs) from the sector. As a result, each college was given a progress visit report and in 2022-23 arrangements focused on actions and comments published in those reports. The major difference in 2022-23 was that there were two types of ‘visit’: an Annual Engagement Visit (AEV) and a Progress Visit (PV). In 2023-24, colleges can expect an AEV to take place around the same period as their visit the previous academic year. In addition to the AEVs, most colleges will also host a thematic review visit. Find out more in the sparqs briefing note linked to above.

Previous HGIOC review arrangments

Student engagement was at the heart of How Good Is Our College? (HGIOC), the previous evaluation and enhancement process for colleges in Scotland.  

In Spring 2020, due to the ongoing situation around COVID-19, Education Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council decided to pause HGIOC and associated outputs, including Evaluative Reports and Enhancement Plans (EREPs) and Progress Visits. Instead, Education Scotland published a new set of resources ‘Our Best Future’ to support colleges during the ‘recovery year’ (2020-21).

However, the current quality landscape for colleges has moved on. One of the recommendations of the Scottish Funding Council Review of Coherent Provision and Sustainability, is the development of a single approach to quality for tertiary education, with the ambition of making Scotland the best place to be a student at college or university.

For academic year 2021-22, transition arrangements were put in place for colleges, replacing the previous HGIOC process. The arrangements consisted in a series of Progress Visits that a team led by Education Scotland carried out between November 2021 and March 2022. The Progress Visits were tailored to each institution.  However, the starting point for the conversations was based on the Toolkit for Effective Learner Engagement developed by sparqs and Education Scotland and published in November 2020.

sparqs supported students’ associations across all institutions in navigating these arrangements, providing opportunities to inform all parties on how they could ensure the student voice came through in quality conversations.

Support delivered by sparqs consisted of individual targeted conversations organised before and after the Progress Visits where possible, with most students’ associations. Support was also provided through delivering informative sessions at our November 2021 SESN and NEON events.

sparqs also collated students’ associations feedback after the Progress Visit, to identify whether more support was needed to prepare for the conversations on the quality of the learner experience. Most students' associations agreed that the visits were a positive experience, providing an important opportunity for conversations with their institutional quality team and senior management.

To discuss student engagement in college reviews, please contact Gloria Laurini.

There is more general information about recent developments in college quality on our Quality Arrangements webpage.

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…