21 Dec 2017

Validation report champions growth, diversity and innovation in HE

A new report offering a guide to good Validation in a changing HE environment is published this week by The Open University with Independent Higher Education (IHE) and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) HE’s quality assurance agency. The report, part of a joint collaboration among the three bodies, highlights ten key principles of good practice for validation, to assist the newly-established Office for Students as it develops exemplar models amid a more competitive Higher Education landscape of potential new providers.

The principles for good practice in validation outlined in the report build on existing regulations and guidelines with the aim of promoting a transparent and robust approach. Such an approach would be one that supports improved collaboration and promotes the sustainability of validation partnerships.

The report also piloted a new streamlined institutional approval process to be used as a test example and to gain relevant feedback – using a small sample of five selected providers who were all seeking OU institutional approval. In addition, forums and surveys among providers were conducted by IHE and the OU to inform the report.

The OU has been working with QAA and IHE to develop a model to further increase efficiency, removing barriers to institutions seeking validation whilst upholding the quality and standards essential for a sustainable and reliable validation service.

Phil Berry, Director, Open University Validation Partnerships said: “Validation is an important way to open up the market and make HE qualifications accessible. Above all, validators should aim to ensure that their principles for good validation can evolve in a changing market to allow for growth, diversity and innovation in HE.”

Will Naylor is Director for Colleges and Alternative Providers at QAA, the UK's independent quality body for higher education. He said:

“Over the years, we've reviewed hundreds of private and further education colleges. Many have performed well in QAA reviews, delivering innovative and high quality programmes for their students. Validation arrangements can and do work well, and give prospective students a wider choice of degrees and qualifications to suit them.

“This report is timely, exploring the different models of validation, and offering practical tips and identifying the principles that mark out a successful validated programme.”
Alex Proudfoot, Chief Executive of Independent HE, said:

"This is a really valuable report at an important moment for the future of our sector. It will be essential reading for those tasked with establishing a new market regulator in England. From next year, the Office for Students will be in a unique position to make validation efficient, stable and secure for providers, and to support the kind of collaborative approach which promotes innovation, opportunity and choice for students."

It is hoped that the principles outlined in the report will present a more efficient approach to validation which could operate right across the sector to include FE Colleges and alternative providers.

Media enquiries:
The Open University
Christine Drabwell, 01908 858673 /

About OU validation
• OU Validation was established in 1992
• We have 35 partner institutions worldwide
• We validate almost 300 programmes
• Validated awards are of the same standard as other UK awards at the same level
• Over 45,000 students are currently studying on a programme validated by the OU
• Over 158,000 people have achieved an OU validated award to date

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