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Governance and Structure

​​​​​The University Executive Committee is responsible for all matters associated with the development and management of the university.

HE Glossary and Acronyms

Last updated: 14 January 2021


Access courses Access courses are designed to prepare students
who do not have standard entry qualifications for higher education

Accreditation Accreditation is the approval of a higher education
course by an authorised body. The QAA does not accredit higher
education courses.

Accreditation of prior learning (APL) A general term used for the
award of credit given to an individual student on the basis of
demonstrated learning that has occurred at some time in the past. This
learning may have come about as the result of a course, or self-directed
study, or as the result of experience either at work or in leisure pursuits.

ALI Adult Learning Inspectorate

AOC Association of Colleges

AVA Authorised Validating Agency

AVCE Advanced Vocational Certificate of Education


BA/BSc Bachelor of Arts/Science

BAC British Accreditation Council for Independent Further and Higher
— A registered charity which defines and monitors standards
for independent further and higher education institutions in the UK.
Institutions accredited by the BAC undergo full inspection every five
years on premises and health and safety, administration and staffing
quality management, student welfare and teaching/learning.

BEd Bachelor of Education

Benchmarking A term used to describe a standard against which
comparisons can be made.

BTEC Business and Technology Education Council — qualifications
now awarded by Edexcel


C&G City & Guilds Awarding Body

CNAA Council for National Academic Awards

Continuing professional development (CPD) A range of short and
long training programmes. Some of which have an option of
accreditation, which foster the development of employment-related
knowledge, skills and understanding.

Credit accumulation and transfer schemes (CATS) Arrangements
within institutions which determine student progression towards defined
learning outcomes, including formal qualifications, and recognition of
these arrangements between institutions to facilitate the transfer of


Degree course A course of higher education leading to the award of a
bachelor’s or master’s degree

DELNI Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland

DENI Department for Education Northern Ireland

DfES Department for Education and Skills

Diploma A qualification awarded for a course of higher education

Distance learning Learning through TV, radio, correspondence,
computer network, CR-ROM, video and so on.


Edexcel Edexcel is a UK examining and awarding body. It provides a
wide range of qualifications including at higher education level.

EFL English as a Foreign Language

ELWA Education and Learning Wales – Training for Wales National


FE Further education

FEFC Further Education Funding Council

Foundation course A recognised higher education course designed to
prepare students who have qualifications which are acceptable for entry
in general, but are not appropriate to a specific course of study. Foundation courses are also used as Year 0 of a degree course to enable students with non-traditional qualifications to participate in higher education by using Year 0 as a preparatory year for a full degree programme.

Foundation Degree Foundation Degrees are two-year higher
education qualifications that were first offered in 2001-02. They are
designed to meet skills shortages at the higher technician and associate
professional levels. Foundation Degrees are one level below honours

FTE Full-time equivalent. For comparison and funding purposes,
numbers of part-time students and staff are converted to full-time


GCE A General Certification of Education Advanced Level

GCE AS General Certification of Education Advanced Supplementary

GCSE General Certification of Secondary Education

GNVQ General National Vocation Qualifications

Graduate Someone who has attained a bachelor’s or higher degree


HE Higher education

HEFCE Higher Education Funding Council for England

HEFCW Higher Education Funding Council for Wales

HEI Higher education institution (university or college of higher

HERO Higher Education and Research Opportunities in the UK

HESA The Higher Education Statistics Agency collects, analyses and
reports on higher education statistics for universities and colleges in the

Higher degree A degree above bachelor’s level such as master’s
degree or doctorate.

Higher education Higher education courses are above the standard of
GCE A-levels or National Vocation Qualifications (NVQ) Level 3. They
include degree courses, postgraduate courses, Foundation Degrees
and Higher National Diplomas. Higher education takes place in
universities and higher education colleges, and in some further
education colleges.

Higher education colleges HE colleges are divided into specialist
colleges dealing mainly with one subject areas, such as music, art and
design or teacher training; and more general colleges offering a range
of courses, particularly in business, humanities and education.

HMI Her Majesty’s Inspectorate

HNC, HND, HNQ Higher National Certificate, Higher National Diploma,Higher National Qualification

Honours degree A bachelor’s degree with honours covering greater
depth than a general or ordinary BA or BSc degree.


ICT Information and communications technology
Initial teacher training (ITT) A course that leads to a qualification as a
teacher. ITT is funded by the Teacher Training Agency.


LEA Local Education Authority

Learn Direct A free advice telephone line/web site, which offers
information on adult education and courses wherever you live and
wherever you want to study.

Level Level of study refers to undergraduate and postgraduate.

LSC Learning and Skills Council


MA/MSc Master of Arts/Science

MA/MSc degrees are awarded to graduates who have undertaken a
further course of study, after an honours degree, either full or part-time. Masters degrees may be taken following a period of work experience
and some courses take the form of company training programmes.

MPhil degrees may be awarded following a period of research rather
than a course of study.

MBA Master of Business Administration

MEd Master of Education

Mode Mode of study refers to full-time, part-time, sandwich, distance
learning etc

Modular degree/modularisation A programme of study in which a
student chooses a number of short courses or modules, the satisfactory
completion of which leads to a degree.


NQF National Qualifications Framework

NUS National Union of Students

NVQ National Vocational Qualification


Ofsted Office for Standards in Education — an official body which
regularly inspects all the schools in England which are mainly or wholly
state funded. Ofsted inspectors produce education reports which are
meant to improve standards of achievement and quality of education,
provide public reporting and informed independent advice.

Ordinary degree A bachelor’s degree awarded without honours.


Performance tables The DfES publishes comparative secondary and
16-18 performance tables each year. The tables report achievements in
public examinations and vocational qualification in secondary schools
and further education sector colleges. Primary school performance
tables are published by local education authorities and report the
achievements of pupils at the end of Key Stage 2.
Note: performance tables are not produced for higher education.

PGCE Postgraduate certificate in education – a teaching qualification.

Postgraduate student A student on a course which normally requires a
first degree as a condition of entry.


QAA Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education

QCA Qualifications and Curriculum Authority


RAE Research Assessment Exercise — the process of assessing the
quality of research for funding purposes. The RAE is carried out every
few years by the four UK funding bodies. The most recent RAE took
place in 2001 and details can be found at

Research Councils There are six subject-specific research councils.
They are funded by the government to support research in their own
establishments and to fund research projects in universities. Research
in the arts and humanities is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Board.


Sandwich A course of study which includes periods of practical work in
organisations outside the university or college.

SCOP Standing Council of Principals

SCQF Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework

Semester A study period of up to 16 weeks, often with the last two
weeks used as an assessment period.

SQA Scottish Qualifications Authority

SVQ Scottish Vocational Qualifications


TES Times Educational Supplement

THES Times Higher Educational Supplement

TTA Teacher Training Agency — funds teacher education, accredits
providers of initial teacher training and provides information and advice
about teaching and teacher education.


UCAS Universities and Colleges Admissions Service

Undergraduate Student working towards a first degree, higher
education certificate or diploma or equivalent.

Universities Universities are diverse, ranging in size, mission and
history. The Privy Council has the power to grant university status to an
institution. Former polytechnics were given the status of universities
under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. These are
sometimes called ‘new’ universities. The existing ‘old’ universities
include many founded in the 1950s and 1960s, the civic universities
established in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the
universities of Oxford and Cambridge, which date from the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries.

UUK Universities UK


Validation The process by which a course is judged to have met the
requirements for an award by the relevant degree-awarding body, or the
relevant examining body, or by an accredited institution on behalf of that
degree-awarding body.


Work-related training Defined as a planned activity that uses work as
a context for learning. It involves learning ‘through’ work contexts,
‘about’ work and working practices, or ‘for’ work by developing personal
attributes and employability skills. It is an ‘umbrella term’ which
describes a broad range of activities for learners of all ages and
includes developing awareness of the local and broader economy,
applications of work to the national curriculum and other subjects and
learning, and careers education. It connects learners’ understanding of
the role of active citizen with awareness of economy.

Work-related/vocational course Terms referring to what is
measurable such as attainment and attendance and progression to
further education and training. Work-related learning may embody an
accredited course. Work-related or vocational courses contain
knowledge and in some cases skills relevant to particular sectors of
industry or occupations.

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