Quality control is the weakest aspect of colleges' work and must be improved, according to an inspectors' report out this week.
The Further Education Funding Council report says quality control is essential to ensure standards are maintained and improved. And it says good practice is vital to allow colleges to move towards regulating their own teaching.
A 22-page inspection report says: "Despite the progress colleges have made in developing quality assurance arrangements, evidence based on inspection grades indicates that this is the weakest of colleges' provision.
"Governors in many colleges have only recently begun to turn their attention to quality assurance policies and procedures.
"Many corporation boards have been receiving reports on the achievements of students, some of which include retention rates and destinations as well as pass rates. It has been much less common for governors to be actively involved in monitoring the quality of the college's provision by establishing targets and indicators for measuring improvements."
The report notes the successful use of value-added measures by colleges, and the efforts of some to use business quality measures.
But it warns: "Colleges with significant weaknesses in their quality assurance systems may have areas of high achievement but without effective quality assurance procedures it may be difficult to ensure that this state of affairs continues."