When Quality Assurance Meets Innovation in Higher Education

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Today, we are delighted to publish a working paper, the literature review and first output from our QAA-funded Collaborative Enhancement Project focused on how institutions develop and support dynamic quality assurance processes.

Download the Literature Review

The project

UK HE providers face sustained and competing pressures that underpin the need to evaluate and enhance teaching and learning, course design, and portfolio in a timely manner. In addition, providers are constantly evolving whilst operating within a complex architecture of external regulation – this often results in QA processes which seem to suppress innovation and inhibit improvement. How providers balance these priorities is a relevant and timely question, and this project argues that the differences and commonalities between new and existing providers present an opportunity for timely comparative and evaluation work.

This project aims to identify the quality assurance domains that have the greatest impact on innovation. These may include:

  • institutional learning and teaching strategies
  • transformation strategies
  • new programme approval
  • programme amendment
  • module amendment
  • PSRB accreditation
  • validation and review
  • external examining systems
  • assessment policies
  • academic governance processes.


The project team will conduct a survey and focus groups to capture the relative impact of these quality assurance domains, and explore how they constrain and facilitate when institutions seek to innovate.


The project will lead to the development of practical outputs to support the sector to adopt innovative and dynamic quality assurance processes including:

  • a concise summary of the current UK context in which the juncture of innovation in HE and quality assurance sits
  • discursive events to share initial findings and tentative conclusions from the datasets
  • case studies and exemplars of good practice that illustrate the range of procedures, relationships, ways of working and mindsets that facilitate different kinds of excellence in facilitating incremental and disruptive innovation
  • a summary of potential mitigation strategies to overcome barriers to innovation.

Project Team



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