Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) institutional review

The Quality Assurance Agency is the national body that aims to assure standards in higher education in the UK. It carries out reviews of all higher education institutions on a 5-6 yearly basis. The University of Sheffield was reviewed last in December 2012 and received a very positive report.

What the QAA review said about us

The QAA made the following judgments:

  • Academic standards at the institution meet UK expectations for threshold standards.
  • The quality of student learning opportunities at the institution meets UK expectations.
  • The enhancement of student learning opportunities at the institution meets UK expectations.
  • Information about learning opportunities produced by the institution meets UK expectations.

The QAA also highlighted a number of areas of good practice as well as making three recommendations for action:

Good practice identified in the review

  • Measures to reward and support teaching excellence, including Senate Awards, funding for master's degrees, and promotion routes rewarding teaching excellence.
  • The institutional scheme of buddying Students' Union sabbaticals with senior managers.
  • The work of Student Services in enhancing the student experience through their use of student feedback.
  • The appointment of a Disability Transition Officer to coordinate support for disabled students from application to graduation.
  • The provision of a residential orientation scheme to introduce international students to their university environment as part of the wider programme of induction.
  • The involvement of Student Ambassadors for Learning and Teaching in the processes for enhancing the quality of the student experience.

Recommendations for action

  • Establish systems, by the end of the academic year 2013-14, that monitor the duration of external examiner appointments and record the University's own staff appointed to external examiner roles so as to avoid reciprocity.
  • Ensure all departments share summaries of external examiner reports with students in the current academic year and make external examiner reports available in full to students from 2013-14.
  • Strengthen and ensure consistency in the evaluation of placement learning by students and placement providers, and by the end of the academic year 2013-14 ensure these evaluations are considered in periodic review.

Our action plan

Following the Institutional Review the University is required to publish an action plan. This will be updated on annual basis. The University will report back to the QAA three years after the review (December 2015), noting any actions that it has been unable to complete.

Institutional Review Outcomes and Action Plan, May 2013, updated May 2014 (PDF, 136KB)

Read the QAA report on their website