Further education could soon have its own quality assurance framework to replace the confusing array of requirements now in force.
Fran Hulbert, national project director and regional education adviser for the North West, warned that quality interventions by numerous agencies could "confuse and irritate staff".
A single comprehensive framework would harmonise the demands and ensure that quality assurance would become more meaningful and lasting, and produce more accurate data, she said.
The project, which originated in the North West but has since been extended to a national forum, found that some colleges in the region were dealing with as many as six different quality systems.
This could lead, said Ms Hulbert, to time-consuming repetition of information, misunderstanding and disorganisation at the expense of improving the learning experience of students.
An initial mapping exercise was carried out to analyse the relationship between the Further Education Funding Council's Assessing Achievement; the TECs' quality assurance system; Supplier Management (TQASM); NCVQ Common Accord; Investors in People; BS5750 and Total Quality Management. Six colleges in the North West were then identified for more detailed study.
Thanks to funding from the Department of Employment National Development Agenda, the project has now been extended to include post-16 work in schools and a steering group has been formed including representatives from the Employment Department, the FEFC, Ofsted, the National Council for Vocational Qualifications and TEC chief executives. The group will meet next month.