Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-21, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 18 June, 2021 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2021.


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core definition

Evaluation (of quality or standards) is the process of examining and passing a judgment on the appropriateness or level of quality or standards.

explanatory context

Quality evaluation may be undertaken internally or externally. External evaluation is a process for undertaking an independent evaluation.


Note: evaluation is often used in a generic way to mean any kind of review of quality or standards, irrespective of any evaluative judgement being passed. It is even used as shorthand for external quality evaluation. In some settings evaluation is used to encompass all forms of quality assurance other than accreditation. For example, in the discussions about the European Higher Education Area, accreditation is often contrasted with ‘evaluation’ (meaning audit and/or assessment  and any other form of external evaluation.).

analytical review

INQAAHE, for example, adopt a generic approach but apply it to an agency activity:

Evaluation (also called review) is used as the general description of the activity of an EQA-agency [external quality assurance agency] for collecting data, information and evidence about the quality of an institution, the quality of parts of an institution or the quality of its core activities: education and/or research. (INQAAHE, 2001, p. 2)

Campbell and Rozsnyai (2002, p. 31):

Evaluation is a general term denoting any process leading to judgments and/or recommendations regarding the quality of a unit. (A unit is an institution, programme, discipline.) Evaluation can be an internal process – self-evaluation – or an external one conducted by external experts, peers, or inspector.)

The UNESCO definition:

Evaluation: The general process of a systematic and critical analysis leading to judgments and/or recommendations regarding the quality of a higher education institution or a programme. Evaluation is carried out through internal or external procedures. In the United Kingdom, evaluation is also called review. (Vlãsceanu, 2004, p. 37)


The Hungarian Higher Education Act (2000 amendment) defines quality evaluation as follows:

Quality evaluation: compares professional objectives with the operation of the institution  in respect of result, efficiency and quality on the basis of a system of indicators prepared  together with the professional community concerned.   (Szanto, 2003)


The Tempus definition is more geared towards an ongoing process of (internal) evaluation of quality:

Quality evaluation – constant evaluation of the possibility of meeting the set demands.


Wojtczak (2002) defines evaluation in the context of medical education as:

A process that attempts to systematically and objectively determine the relevance, effectiveness, and impact of activities in light of their objectives. Evaluation can be related to structure, process, or outcome. One can distinguish these various types: individuals evaluation (see below) and programme evaluation.

Formative individual evaluation provides feedback to an individual (usually a learner) in order to improve that individual's performance. This type of evaluation identifies areas for improvement and provides specific suggestions for improvement serving as an educational tool.
Summative individual evaluation measures whether specific objectives were accomplished by an individual in order to place a value on the performance of that individual. It may certify competency or lack of competency in performance in a particular area.

Harvey (2002, p. 1) states:

‘Evaluation’ is used here as an umbrella term for all forms of quality monitoring, assessment, audit, enhancement legitimation, endorsement or accreditation.

The Glossary to the Berlin Summit of 2003 (ENQA, 2003) states:

Apart from accreditation, evaluation is the central activity to assure quality in higher education. To evaluate means to assess teaching and academic studies in a subject or department and the related degree programmes. Strengths and weaknesses of education and training should be demonstrated by stocktaking and analysis and proposals should be formulated to promote its quality as well. Evaluation is carried out through internal or external procedures. The process of internal evaluation is comprised of the systematic collection of administrative data, questioning of students and graduates, as well as moderated conversations with lecturers and students. As part of the process of external evaluation a review team visits the department in order to review the quality of the academic studies and teaching. External peers are lecturers or persons from vocational practice who discuss with students and young scientists and present a final report. The evaluation of academic studies and teaching has to be followed by an account of how effective the measures of quality assurance are.

Besides academic studies and teaching, the performance of research is evaluated at different levels: with reference to national research systems, individual institutions, research programmes or individual projects. In the field of research evaluation internal and external evaluations are also employed.

associated issues

related areas

See also

external evaluation

internal evaluation


Campbell, C. & Rozsnyai, C., 2002, Quality Assurance and the Development of Course Programmes. Papers on Higher Education Regional University Network on Governance and Management of Higher Education in South East Europe Bucharest, UNESCO.

European Network of Quality Agencies (ENQA), 2003, The Bologna Process, Glossary, accessed 21 September 2012, page not available 30 December 2016.

Harvey, L., 2002, ‘Quality assurance in higher education: some international trends’ Higher Education Conference, Oslo, 22-23 January 2002, paper available as a pdf

International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE), 2001, Annex: Clarification and Glossary, to a questionnaire conducted in December, 2001. This is no longer the site of INQAAHE, document not accessible online 4 February 2011 but can be seen here.

Szanto, T.R., 2003, ‘Hungary – Higher Education' in Educational Evaluation  around the World  An International Anthology p. 103 ff (Copenhagen, The Danish  Evaluation Institute) ISBN 87-7958-132-3.

Tempus, 2001, Glossary of the Terms related to Quality Assurance Development of Quality Assurance System in Higher Education (QUASYS) Tempus Joint European Project, UM JEP-16015-2001, accessed 3 August 2008, not available 29 January 2011.

Vlãsceanu, L., Grünberg, L., and Pârlea, D., 2004, Quality Assurance and Accreditation: A Glossary of Basic Terms and Definitions (Bucharest, UNESCO-CEPES) Papers on Higher Education, ISBN 92-9069-178-6.

Wojtczak, A., 2002, Glossary of Medical Education Terms,, December, 2000, Revised February 2002, accessed 2 September 2012, page not available 30 December 2016.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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