Anthony McClaran reviews the development of the UK QAA as a national HE agency in the context of the international opportunities, pressures, challenges and responses that have shaped the direction of quality assurance since the Agency was founded in 1997. He identifies key issues, including the tension between peer review and quantitative outcome measures in the context of reduced funding; the relationship between external and internal quality assurance; and the emergence of risk-based approaches to regulation. The growing role and significance of international groupings and alliances of agencies, the emergence of international frameworks for standards, and the challenges presented by transnational HE have all played their part in shaping the work of QAA and agencies like it around the world.