Quality assurance

By the Universities Act, 1997, s 35, all Irish universities are required

to establish procedures for quality assurance aimed at improving the quality of education and related services provided by the university.

These procedures must include

assessment by those, including students, availing of the teaching, research and other services provided by the university

and

evaluation … of each department … by employees of the university

to be followed by evaluation

by persons, other than employees, who are competent to make national and international comparisons on the quality of teaching and research and the provision of other services at university level.

There is a legal obligation to implement the recommendations which result, “unless, having regard to the resources available to the university or for any other reason, it would, in the opinion of the governing authority, be impractical or unreasonable to do so”.

There is also an obligation to publish the findings. In the legislation, this is stated in vague terms (“publication in such form and manner as the governing authority thinks fit”); the norm is to publish to the web the report and recommendations of the external evaluators, but not the more detailed internal evaluation on which they were commenting. Reports are currently available online as follows:

The national picture is kept under review by the Irish Universities Quality Board, which is funded by annual subscriptions from the seven Irish universities and by an annual grant from the HEA. The IUQB website also archives some quality reports.

Further reading

Australian Universities Quality Agency

International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education

Public Policy for Academic Quality

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (UK)

Society for Research into Higher Education

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