The clause covers a number of important issues on which I am glad to have the opportunity to say a few words. First, I should emphasise that the Bill places an obligation on the new funding council to assess the quality of education provided in all institutions which it funds, whether or not they have degree-awarding powers. That assessment of quality will then be used to inform the funding provided by the council for teaching. All three territorial funding councils will undertake such quality assessment. In addition, there will be a quality audit unit run on a United Kingdom-wide basis by the institutions themselves. It may be helpful if I make the distinction between quality assessment and audit. Quality assessment will look at the quality of the teaching itself with a view to informing funding decisions. Quality audit will examine the quality control systems put in place by the institutions themselves to ensure that they are adequate.
The specific subject of credit rating for courses is an area where Scottish institutions can take some pride. The Scottish Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme—or SCOTCATS—involves all Scottish higher education institutions and covers courses from a higher national certificate to a full honours degree. I know that the institutions are very keen to continue that scheme and are looking at ways of doing so through the quality audit unit.