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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External institutional audit

core definition

An external institutional audit is a process by which an external person or team check that procedures are in place across an institution to assure quality, integrity or standards of provision and outcomes.

explanatory context

Audit is often used as a shorthand for external institutional audit.

In the UK, external institutional audit is also known as institutional review.


Evaluations of institutions (Kristoffersen, 2003) is similar in as much as it ‘aims at assessing the organisational, administrative and managerial framework of an educational institution, e.g. typically covering administration, financing, research, education and quality assurance’.   

analytical review

The UNESCO definition links institutional audit with institutional review:

Institutional Audit/Institutional Review: An evidence-based process carried out through peer review that investigates the procedures and the mechanisms by which an institution ensures its quality assurance and quality enhancement. When it specifically addresses the final responsibility for the management of quality and standards that rests with an institution as a whole, the process is called an institutional review. (Vlãsceanu et al., 2004, p. 23)


The South African HEQC (2004) view is:

Institutional audit — An improvement orientated external evaluation of institutional arrangements for quality in teaching and learning, research and community engagement, based on a self-evaluation conducted by the institution.  The external evaluation is conducted by a panel of peers and experts against the HEQC’s criteria and other quality requirements set by the institution itself.  The audit panel’s report forms the basis of the HEQC’s report to the audited institution with commendations on good practice and recommendations for improvement.


Campbell and Rozsnyai  (2002, p. 31):

An institutional audit is concerned with the processes whereby an institution assures quality assurance and quality enhancement… An underlying theme in quality audits is the question: how does an institution know that the standards and objectives it has set for itself are being met? On what evidence is the assessment of the quality of its work based, and are there procedures in place to ensure that the significant processes are followed up and continuously improved?


Duff et al. (2000) see institutional audit as a generic term for audit of an institution at various levels and they place more emphasis on evaluation and stakeholder satisfaction, while acknowledging the potential for sub-institutional audits:

An institutional quality audit is a review of the overall institution in respect of its quality assurance systems… The aim of a quality review or audit is to evaluate the academic structures, procedures and standards of the institution, faculty or department in order to satisfy customers of the institution, other stakeholders and the funding authorities that the educational awards of the institution are of the quality claimed. (Duff et al., 2000, p. 130)


UMIST defines institutional audit rather unusually as an external review of performance

Institutional Audit (QAA) audits carried out by the QAA of the academic performance of institutions


Woodhouse (1999, p. 31) also refers to this as:

Direct audit: The EQR agency investigates whether the institution’s processes are effective. In theory, the higher education institutions need provide no special documentation.

associated issues

related areas

See also


internal institutional audit

external sub-institutional audit

internal sub-institutional audit

management audit


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.

Council on Higher Education, Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC), 2004, Criteria for Institutional Audits, April (Pretoria, Council on Higher Education).

Duff, T., Hegarty, J. and Hussey, M., 2000, Academic Quality Assurance in Irish Higher Education: Elements of a handbook, (Dublin, Blackhall).

Kristoffersen, D., 2003, ‘Denmark' in Educational Evaluation  around the WorldAn International Anthology (Copenhagen, The Danish  Evaluation Institute) ISBN 87-7958-132–3.

University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), 2001, Annex 1: Glossary, UM/DG/005, posted 30 August 2001. No longer at this address, 2 February 2011. UMIST merged with the Victoria University of Manchester to form the University of Manchester on 22 October 2004.

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.

Woodhouse, D., 1999, ‘Quality and Quality Assurance’ in Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), 1999, Quality and Internationalisation in Higher Education, pp. 29–44, Programme on Institutional Management in Higher Education (IMHE), Paris, OECD.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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