The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that we maintain the high quality and standards in higher education in Scotland. Scotland's higher education sector has a well-deserved international reputation for excellence and the Scottish Quality Enhancement Framework is used globally as a model of good practice for standards in higher education.
The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA)
The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) checks how universities maintain their own academic standards and quality. It reviews and reports on how they meet their responsibilities, identifies good practice and makes recommendation for improvement. The QAA also provides advice on applications for the grant of degree awarding powers, university title, or designation as a higher education institution.
QAA Scotland has developed a protocol for managing potential risks to quality and academic standards. It is intended to have a similar role to the Causes for Concern arrangements that operate in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, it is not a mechanism for addressing individual complaints or grievances. These should still be addressed through the institution's internal mechanisms and, ultimately, via the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (see below).
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO)
The remit of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) has been extended to include the higher and further education sectors. This means that anyone who has a complaint against an institution - students, staff or members of the public - can take the complaint to the Ombudsman, who provides an independent complaints resolution service. The Ombudsman will determine, in line with the terms of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002, which complaints he can investigate. For example, normally a complainant would be expected to have completed any internal complaints procedure before taking the complaint to the Ombudsman. You can find further information on the SPSO website.
Recognised UK Degrees
Scotland has a well-deserved reputation world-wide for providing high quality and reputable higher education. To award degrees, higher education institutions must have degree awarding powers recognised by the UK authorities.
The UK authorities recognise those institutions which have been granted degree awarding powers by a Royal Charter, Act of Parliament or the Privy Council. These are known as 'Recognised Bodies'. All Scottish universities, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and the UHI Millennium Institute are Recognised Bodies.
Other institutions, which do not have the power to award their own degrees, may provide full courses which lead to a degree of a Recognised Body. These are known as 'Listed Bodies'. Scottish Higher Education Institutions that come under this category are: Edinburgh College of Art, Glasgow School of Art and the Scottish Agricultural College. There are a number of other institutions in Scotland that are listed bodies including some colleges.
Bogus Degrees Warning:
It is an offence in the UK for any organisation to offer a degree qualification which could be taken to be that of a UK institution unless the body making the offer is recognised by the UK authorities. The relevant legislation in this area is section 214 of the Education Reform Act 1988.
Organisations suspected of committing an offence under this Act ( bogus degree) will be reported to the appropriate Local Trading Standards Department for investigation which could lead to prosecution.