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Welcome to the Tertiary Quality Project

Our ambition is to make Scotland an outstanding place to learn and educate – now and for the future. Our purpose is to sustain a world-leading system of tertiary education that enables students and staff to flourish, and which changes lives for the better.

The Scottish Government agreed to the SFC Review of Coherent Provision and Sustainability recommendation to explore the development of a single tertiary quality framework for Scotland’s colleges and universities. Following the first phase of the work, undertaken in AY 2021-22, we have committed to developing a common approach to assuring and enhancing quality in the tertiary sector, with the right flexibilities to support sector needs.

Learning and Quality

What is the vision that the new tertiary quality arrangements will underpin?

Our vision is for a more coherent and streamlined tertiary education system from the student perspective that delivers the best learning experience for students.

What is the common approach?

The common approach is the proposed new quality assurance and enhancement framework for Scotland’s colleges and universities. It will comprise a shared set of principles, delivery pillars, and outputs that can be applied to the different contexts of our colleges and universities to give assurance on academic standards and the quality of the student experience, and ensure accountability for public investment in learning and teaching. The common approach is an evolution of Scotland’s enhancement-led approach to quality assurance and draws on the strengths of the college and university sectors' existing arrangements. It will seek to answer the question ‘is the provision delivered by Scotland’s colleges and universities of high quality and is it improving?’

Why a common approach, and why now?

A common approach to quality assurance and enhancement will:

  • Protect academic standards and enhance the student learning experience.
  • Ensure our quality arrangements continue to be fit for purpose to support innovation in learning and new more flexible models of delivery.
  • Help create seamless pathways for learners and support more students to achieve positive outcomes.
  • Support more effective collaboration across colleges and universities, removing barriers to the sharing of innovation and learning, thereby promoting tertiary collaboration, where institutions wish to do so.
  • Foster a shared learning community leading to a common language and culture around learning and teaching across the tertiary system.

Wider educational reforms, particularly following the Muir and Withers reviews , mean now is the optimal time to progress this educational reform across the system to secure enhanced alignment and coherence.

Nichola Kett, Head of Quality Assurance and Enhancement at the University of Edinburgh, reflects on the commonalities between colleges and universities, that she helped to map, during her secondment to the Tertiary Quality Project.

What will the new common approach be called?

We have used the term common approach as a working title as we develop the new arrangements. It will be for all the partners, through their shared steering group, to develop a consensus around a name for the new approach that best describes its purpose and intent, in advance of its implementation in AY 2024-25.

A common approach to quality assurance and enhancement

TQF Common Approach Diagram

What are the principles and how were they developed?

The principles will be the foundation on which quality assurance and enhancement will be based and are designed to put students at the heart of the common approach in Scotland. They were initially developed during AY 2021-22 as SFC started engaging with our sectors and stakeholders to explore options for how the common approach to quality assurance and enhancement could be developed. These initial discussions were used as a basis for creating the principles, which were further refined and developed during the co-creation workshops in AY 2022-23.

TQF Principles Diagram - contact for full text

Download the Principles diagram [PDF]

Frequently Asked Questions

We know that many people will have questions about the new approach, how it has been developed and what the plans for the future are. To address some of these, we have created a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) for reference.

The Project

Find out more about how SFC is organising the project to take this work forward.

Planning for implementation and delivery - Phase 4 (July 2023 - July 2024)

Co-creation - Phase 3 (October 2022-present)

Policy review and reflection - Phase 2 (July-October 2022)

Building evidence and mapping arrangements - Phase 1 (November 2021-June 2022)

For more information

Please contact us at