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Welcome to the latest edition of the QAA Northern Ireland Newsletter, our quarterly publication capturing many of the latest developments in higher education in Northern Ireland and across the UK. 

In our first newsletter of 2023, we introduce the latest developments and opportunities to help you get the year off to a great start.
As we continue to engage with the Department for the Economy (DfE) on developing the next external quality assurance review method for Northern Ireland, we are able to share recordings from November’s Northern Ireland conference that brought the whole sector together.

This is an exciting time and we hope to have more announcements soon.

Enjoy the issue! 

Meet the team: 

Alastair Delaney is Deputy Chief Executive of QAA and continues to provide operational support for our work in Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as strategic leadership more widely across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Alastair brings his extensive quality assurance, regulatory and further education experience to help support, develop and inform the Northern Ireland approach to enhancement.  
Pamela Sinclair is a Quality and Enhancement Manager who works with higher education providers in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Before joining QAA in 2016, Pam worked at the University of Stirling for 15 years in a variety of Strategic Planning, Governance and Quality roles. She completed a degree and PhD in Plant Science at the University of St Andrews before starting a career in university administration.  

Pam is the key contact for: 
  • Queen's University, Belfast
  • Ulster University
  • St Mary's University College
  • Stranmillis University College
Holly Thomas is a Quality and Enhancement Specialist who works with higher education providers in Northern Ireland and Wales. Holly comes from a student engagement background, having previously worked in a students’ union where she supported students to be involved in institutional quality assurance processes, organised feedback campaigns and encouraged student voice at all levels of decision-making.

Holly is the key contact for: 

  • Belfast Metropolitan College  
  • Northern Regional College 
  • North West Regional College  
  • South Eastern Regional College 
  • Southern Regional College 
  • South West College  
  • College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise  
Kevin McStravock  is the Lead Policy Officer (Nations and Europe). His role is to support QAA as a UK-wide agency, with responsibility for stakeholder engagement in the devolved nations and ensuring that QAA colleagues across the UK are kept aware of the policy differences in each UK nation.
Scott McKellar is Media and Engagement Officer for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. With a background in student engagement at a national level within higher education, his role is to promote and support the work of QAA and our Members across the devolved nations.  

In this issue: 


  • Update on developing a new review method in Northern Ireland  
  • Resources from QAA Northern Ireland Conference 2022: The Future of Quality Enhancement


  • Member Network Conference – let’s get together! 20 April 2023, Birmingham 
  • QAA briefs members on artificial intelligence threat to academic integrity  


  • QAA announces advisory groups for upcoming subject benchmark statement reviews
  • QAA briefs members on artificial intelligence threat to academic integrity
  • 20 Years of Enhancement campaign continues in Scotland
  • New Lead Policy Officer for Nations and Europe




Update on developing a new review method in Northern Ireland  

QAA continues to engage with the Department for the Economy (DfE) on developing the next external quality assurance review method for Northern Ireland. Last year, QAA submitted a proposal to the DfE to develop the next method, following engagement with our members and the sector. We continue to work with the DfE and hope to be in a position to share further updates soon!

Resources from QAA Northern Ireland Conference 2022: The Future of Quality
November’s QAA Northern Ireland conference was an opportunity to bring the sector together to develop a shared understanding of the key reference points for quality enhancement and share practice across Wales and Scotland, which currently have enhancement-led approaches to quality. Feedback was extremely positive with many commenting on the opportunity to forge new connections for the future. Resources from the conference are available and can be accessed on the QAA Members site.
Member Network Conference – let’s get together! 20 April 2023, Birmingham 

Our Member Network Conference in Birmingham provides an opportunity for colleagues to explore current sector challenges and share ideas with like-minded colleagues. We look forward to being back in person this year for networking in 3D! This event will have a firm focus on the future structure and scope of the UK Quality Code for Higher Education. Drawing on our work in the current year, it will invite you to identify the format and content that will add most value to quality and standards in your institution - to do that we will devote the morning to an interactive workshop. In the afternoon, there will be shorter sessions and prompts for discussion on a range of hot topics including awarding gaps, continuous and annual monitoring, and data and evaluation. 

QAA briefs members on artificial intelligence threat to academic integrity  

QAA has published a briefing note to support members in tackling challenges to academic integrity which have been brought about by the rise of artificial intelligence tools. It has been produced following widespread concern that new software tools like ChatGPT could be used by students to generate work on their behalf without correctly acknowledging or attributing their use. You can read it on the QAA website.

All staff and students in QAA Member institutions can access QAA’s
Membership Resources site and benefit from supporting resources from experts all over the UK. All you need to register for the site is an email address from your institution.

Complete your registration via the Membership Resources site. 


QAA announces advisory groups for upcoming Subject Benchmark statement reviews

QAA has confirmed the membership of the advisory groups for the Subject Benchmark Statements being reviewed in 2023-24.

Subject Benchmark Statements outline the academic standards expected of graduates and articulate what they might reasonably be expected to know, do and understand at the end of their studies. They are an established part of the quality assurance arrangements in UK higher education, developed and written by the academic communities themselves. QAA leads on the development of Subject Benchmark Statements, ensuring they are kept current and provide value to the discipline communities by reviewing them on a cyclical basis.

A full list of the advisory groups and their membership is available on the QAA website. 

20 Years of Enhancement campaign continues in Scotland

QAA Scotland's 20 Years of Enhancement campaign marks 20 years of Scotland’s enhancement-led approach to quality and draws on sector colleagues’ experience of enhancement to create opportunities for critical reflection, celebration and looking to the future of enhancement.

The latest update includes a link to a recording from the second of the campaign's virtual panels, ‘Where in the world is enhancement? Exploring the international impact of Scotland’s enhancement approach’ which took place in February. 
Since its implementation in 2003, Scotland’s enhancement approach to quality has become established as an example of good practice for innovation in the enhancement of the student experience. The session brought together a range of representatives from international institutions to explore how lessons from Scotland’s approach to quality have been used to embed quality enhancement in international higher education sectors and what colleagues can learn from their experiences. 

You can find all the resources from the campaign so far, including guest blogs, recordings, updated resources and more on the Enhancement Themes website.

New Lead Policy Officer for Nations and Europe

Kevin McStravock has joined the QAA SWNI team as Lead Policy Officer for Nations and Europe, taking over from James Harrison. Kevin previously served as QAA’s PR, Press and Communications Officer, joining in June 2021, and has significant experience working across the UK and Irish higher education sectors. As Deputy President of the Union of Students in Ireland, he represented more than 375,000 third-level students across Ireland.
In this role, Kevin worked closely with ministers, government officials and sector bodies to lobby for enhanced support for students during the COVID-19 pandemic, and support national research on digital education, student experiences during the pandemic and embedding wellbeing within the curriculum. Kevin is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and serves as the Communications Officer for the Researching Advance and Inspiring Student Engagement (RAISE) network. 



For a full list of events, take a look at our events page.

Other newsletters

Sign up to our other QAA newsletters to find out about more of our work across the Agency.


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If you have a project or initiative you would like to share, drop us a line at and we can work together to create a feature for the next QAA Northern Ireland Newsletter. 

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