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How we consider programmes at an on-site approval visit

We visit programmes for two reasons

1 If a programme is entirely new and needs considering against our standards for the first time.  

2 If we decide, through our monitoring processes, that we need to visit a programme to consider how it continues to meet our standards.

We do not visit on a cyclical basis. If your programme is approved and you are making changes as part of a cyclical review, you should engage with our major change process in the first instance.

Approval visits allow us to:

  • consider a documentary submission;
  • discuss how the programme will work with relevant stakeholders; and
  • make judgements about the facilities and resources available to learners.


Visit lead in Normally six months, unless we tell you otherwise
Documentary submission Eight weeks before the visit
Visit 1-3 days depending on the programme / range of programmes being considered
Report to provider 28 days following the visit
Conditions deadline Normally around six weeks after the visit
Conclusion of process Aim to conclude within three months of the visit, in the 2018-19 academic year on average the process concluded in 4.5 months.

What we require

  • We require a documentary submission eight weeks before the visit. This allows us to make evidence based decisions about whether programmes meet our standards, and to form the basis for questions at the approval visit.

    Through the approval process, we will inform you of our documentary requirements specific to your assessment. Normally, we require the following documentation:

    • Information about the programme, including relevant policies and procedures, and contractual agreements
    • Descriptions of how the programme delivers and assesses learning
    • Proficiency standards mapping
    • Information provided to applicants and learners
    • Information for those involved with practice-based learning
    • Information that shows how staff resources are sufficient for the delivery of the programme
    • Internal quality monitoring documentation (If the programme (or a previous version) is currently running)
  • We ask to meet various groups at approval visits, to triangulate the information that we have been given in your documentary submission. Through the approval process, we will work with you to put together an agenda specific to your assessment, and to work for all groups that may be present. Normally, we ask to meet the following groups:

    • Learners, potential learners, or learners from a similar programme
    • Senior staff, including those from the education provider and any relevant partners
    • Practice educators that work or will work directly with learners
    • Service users and carers that contribute to the programme
    • The programme team
    • Resources available for learners, which could be in the form of a tour
  • We intend to run a supportive process, to help you understand what you need to do to meet our standards. With that in mind, we will provide direct support at specific points in the process, and you will always have a named member of our team as a primary contact.

Involvement of other groups

We are happy to attend events along your internal quality assurance processes, and with professional bodies. Although we engage in collaborative scrutiny of programmes, we come to our decisions independently.

Multiprofessional events

We sometimes consider programmes from multiple professions at approval visits if education providers would like us to. These events are often complex due to the number of programmes being considered, the number of people we will bring, and the number of external bodies. Therefore, you should contact us as soon as possible to discuss what might work best for our assessment of your programmes.

Page updated on: 12/06/2018