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How to get a course recognised by QAA

Recognition by QAA

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) regulates Access to HE courses, through the QAA Recognition Scheme for Access to Higher Education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The scheme was set up by QAA for the assurance of quality, and the adequacy of standards of student achievements, on all courses.

However, QAA does not directly recognise individual courses or award certificates to students: it licenses Access Validating Agencies (AVAs) to do this, and regulates the way in which AVAs undertake their responsibilities.

There are currently 11 licensed AVAs across England and Wales, and all of these operate according to the requirements of the QAA Recognition Scheme.

The Recognition Scheme has three elements:

  • national level: QAA has overall responsibility over the framework and the implementation of the Recognition Scheme
  • regional level: regionally-based Access Validating Agencies (AVAs) are licensed by QAA to approve Access to HE courses and to award QAA-recognised Access to HE qualifications to students
  • local level: providers of Access to HE courses deliver the courses and recommend learners to the AVAs for the award of Access to HE qualifications.

Next steps for course providers

Contact an Access Validating Agency

If you are a course provider, and would like to offer Access to HE Diploma courses, you must first contact one of the Access Validating Agencies. AVAs usually focus particularly on providers based in their region, but you may approach any of the AVAs, as some operate across more than one region.

Provider approval and Diploma validation processes

The AVA will introduce you to their process for developing and validating new Access to HE Diplomas. This will involve two main stages: a centre (or provider) approval process; and a Diploma validation process. These processes are determined by the AVA.

QAA sets requirements which ensure that there is a common structure for all Diplomas and equivalent demands are made on students on different courses (see The Access to HE Diploma and credit specifications). But different AVAs have different approaches to the development process and the actual units of study that make up your Diploma will be developed or discussed with the AVA's development staff, before being submitted to a validation panel for approval.

After your Diploma is validated

Once any conditions of validation have been met, you will be able to deliver your new Access to HE course. At that point, the AVA will provide details of your course to QAA and it will be included on our Access course search.