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 22 September, 2021 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2021.


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External sub-institutional audit

core definition

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

explanatory context

The sub-institutional element being checked may be an academic area, administrative area, resource (sub as library or computing facility) or an aspect that cuts across institutions, such as compliance with disability legislation or health and safety. This is similar to thematic evaluation. Subject assessment, programme accreditation are also similar to external sub-institutional audits but unlike audits include some for of evaluative judgement.


Note: the term sub-institutional audit is rarely used as such but this is a generic term to cover external audits of any element within an institution such as external subject audit; external library audit; external legislation compliance audit.


Sub-institutional audits can also be undertaken internally.

analytical review

The UNESCO definition of audit is directed at programme level and is about checking that aims and objectives are met. [This is normally referred to as validation, programme evaluation, or programme accreditation if linked to external recognition.]

Audit: The process of reviewing an institution or a programme that is primarily focused on the accountability of the latter, evaluating/determining if the stated aims and objectives (in terms of curriculum, staff, infrastructure, etc.) are met. (Vlãsceanu et al., 2007, p. 31)


The CHEA (2001) definition of audit is similar to the UNESCO definition. (CHEA has a different definition of ‘quality audit’ (see audit)). CHEA also indicates that institutional audit (review) is a British phenomenon (although it is more widespread):

Audit: A process of review of an institution or program to determine if its curriculum, staff, and infrastructure meet its stated aims and objectives. An audit focuses on accountability of institutions and programs. (In the U.K., an audit is an institutional process. The term "audit" is scheduled to be replaced in 2002 by "institutional review" as part of a new academic review process.)

associated issues


related areas

See also


external institutional audit

internal institutional audit

internal sub-institutional audit

management audit


Council For Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) 2001, Glossary of Key Terms in Quality Assurance and Accreditation, last updated 23 October 2002, accessed 18 September 2012, page not available 30 December 2016.

Vlãsceanu, L.,  Grünberg, L., and Pârlea, D., 2007,  Quality Assurance and Accreditation: A Glossary of Basic Terms and Definitions ( Bucharest , UNESCO-CEPES) Revised and updated edition. ISBN 92-9069-186-7, available at, accessed 19 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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