Case study: Quality Assurance Agency

Development of a transparent pay & grading framework

Quality Assurance Agency


The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) is an independent body that monitors and advises on standards and quality in UK higher education, to ensure all students get the experience they are entitled to.

Goals for 2014-2017 include enhancing the quality of higher education both in the UK and internationally through their leadership, knowledge and resources. In order to deliver on these goals the QAA needed staff performance to be at its peak with a salary structure and job evaluation approach to fit.

Insight & Approach

Initial analysis highlighted the following key ares of focus:

  • Closer links needed between pay and performance
  • Salary structure no longer fits changed circumstances and new dynamics
  • Job evaluation approaches not well understood by staff
  • Differences in responsibilities not accurately reflected in pay bands

Based on this we undertook a thorough job evaluation and salary structure review, and developed a set of reward principles in the context of a Total Reward Framework. This included options for both a new grading framework and future pay management, including pay progression linked to performance.

Working closely with the QAA we agreed a new approach to job evaluation and grading that was transparent and well understood by staff. This was supported by a set of grade descriptors to underpin a new banded hierarchy, which clearly articulated the job challenge of roles at each level; and a set of new salary ranges below Executive Team level.


The grade descriptors Beamans developed are now published and provide the principal means of evaluating and banding roles across the organisation.

Subsequent to this review, Beamans were invited to review the remuneration of the Chief Executive and Executive Team, including providing recommendations to the QAA’s remuneration committee on the future approach and management of executive level pay.

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