Recognition and quality assurance
We evaluate qualifications from British secondary education using 2 criteria:
- recognition by a regulatory body; and
- recognition of the awarding body.
Recognition by a regulatory body
Regulatory bodies are the organisations which are responsible for ensuring the quality of the secondary education (and vocational education). Each region has a separate regulatory body. The regulatory bodies maintain databases of recognised and accredited qualifications.
The databases per region:
- Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) for Scotland;
- Ofqual-register for England;
- Qualifications in Wales (QiW) for Wales;
- Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment (CCEA) for Northern Ireland.
Recognition by an awarding body
Awarding bodies are the organisations that award qualifications; secondary schools do not do this themselves. An awarding body must be recognised by 1 of the 4 regulatory bodies. You can check this by looking up the awarding body in the databases of regulatory bodies listed above.
Examples of awarding bodies are:
When evaluating higher education qualifications attained in the United Kingdom, we check to see if the relevant institution is recognised. To do this, we confirm whether the institution is listed on the British government website in the overview of:
Please note: the government no longer ensures these overviews are up to date. Instead, the government is now compiling a register of recognised institutions of higher education, the Office for Students Register, the OfS Register.
Recognised bodies are institutions known to the British government, such as all universities in the UK. These institutions are permitted to award degrees and other non-degree qualifications. The British government can formally recognise higher education institutions by law, such as with a Royal Charter.
Listed bodies are higher education institutions that are not permitted to award degrees. They are, however, allowed to offer degree programmes in cooperation with a recognised body. In that case, the recognised body with which they are partnering will guarantee the quality of the degree programme and award the degree itself. When you find a higher education institution in the overview of listed bodies, you should check to see whether a recognised body awards the degree.
Listed bodies are permitted to offer non-degree programmes independently, and then award the certificates and diplomas from these programmes themselves.
The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) is responsible for quality assurance in higher education in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. QAA is an independent organisation that coordinates and records the annual visitations of programmes.
More information about quality assurance in higher education can be found in the UK Quality Code:
Collaboration with partner institutions
Many British universities offer degree programmes in collaboration with a British or overseas partner institution. This type of partnership is known as collaborative provision. Most British universities keep a list of partners and the degree programmes concerned in the collaborative provision register.
Types of collaboration
Two types of collaboration are particularly widespread:
- validation, in which the partner institution develops and provides the degree programme and the British university both awards the degree/qualification and safeguards its quality; and
- franchising, in which the British university develops the degree programme and the partner institution provides it.