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In the UK the government does not regulate the quality of educational programs offered at colleges and universities. Instead, the accreditation of a university, college or school tells you that the school has met a minimum standard of quality in its academic programs.

The primary responsibility for academic standards and quality rests with individual universities and colleges, each of which has its own internal quality assurance procedures.

Accrediting organizations are authorized by the UK Government to set these standards and then evaluate whether a school's program meets them. If so, then the university, college or school is said to be "accredited" by that body.

QAA is the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education with the mission is to safeguard standards and improve the quality of UK higher education. It protects the public interest by checking how universities and colleges maintain their academic standards and quality.

QAA offer advice, guidance and support to help UK universities, colleges and other institutions provide the best possible student experience of higher education.

To do it, QAA carries out external reviews and audits by visiting the universities and colleges and reporting on how well they meet their responsibilities. They conduct reviews of institutions and publish reports detailing the findings. The reports highlight good practice and contain recommendations to help improve quality.

QAA aims to

  • meet students' needs and be valued by them
  • safeguard standards in an increasingly diverse UK and international context
  • drive improvements in UK higher education
  • improve public understanding of higher education standards and quality.

It is very important to choose a school, college or university that has been accredited by a proper accrediting organization. By attending an accredited college, university or school, you can be sure that your degree will be recognized by other colleges and universities (should you want to pursue an advanced degree), and by employers.