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.


Novel Recipes




core definition

Guidelines for quality in higher education provide advice on what should be monitored and how this monitoring of quality should be carried out.

explanatory context

There are several published sets of guidelines for quality assurance in higher education. The Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ENQA, 2005) are widely used. Theyfocus more on what should be done than how to do it. The ENQA Guidelines draw inter alia on the “Guidelines for good practice” of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE), the ‘Code of Good Practice’ of European Consortium for Accreditation (ECA) and ESIB’s ‘Statement on agreed set of standards, procedures and guidelines at a European level’.

analytical review

ENQA (2005) in the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area state:

Guidelines: Formal policies and procedures provide a framework within which higher education institutions can develop and monitor the effectiveness of their quality assurance systems. They also help to provide public confidence in institutional autonomy. Policies contain the statements of intentions and the principal means by which these will be achieved. Procedural guidance can give more detailed information about the ways in which the policy is implemented and provides a useful reference point for those who need to know about the practical aspects of carrying out the procedures.


Referring to its own Standards and Guidelines, ENQA (2005, p. 13) states:

The purpose of these standards and guidelines is to provide a source of assistance and guidance to both higher education institutions in developing their own quality assurance systems and agencies under- taking external quality assurance, as well as to contribute to a common frame of reference, which can be used by institutions and agencies alike. It is not the intention that these standards and guidelines should dictate practice or be interpreted as prescriptive or unchangeable.


The ESG has been updated and there is now a 2015 version. A comparative analysis of the two versions can be found here as a pdf.

UNESCO/OECD developed guidelines on “Quality provision in cross-border higher education”:

The objectives of the Guidelines are to propose tools and a synthesis of best practices that can assist Member States in assessing the quality and relevance of higher education provided across borders and to protect students and other stakeholders in higher education from low-quality higher education provision.

They further state that the policy objectives are:

The ‘Students/learners protection’ from the risks of misinformation, low-quality provision and qualifications of limited validity. Qualifications should be readable and transparent in order to increase their international validity and portability. Reliable and user-friendly information sources should facilitate this.

Recognition procedures should be transparent, coherent, fair and reliable and impose as little burden as possible to mobile professionals.

National quality assurance and accreditation agencies need to intensify their international cooperation in order to increase mutual understanding.

associated issues

related areas

See also

quality standard


ENQA 2005, Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG), Helsinki, ENQA, originally available at, accessed 22 September 2012. The ESG has now been updated and the 2015 version can be found at, accessed 3 January 2017, still available 26 June 2019.

UNESCO, 2005, Guidelines for Quality Provision in Cross-border Higher Education,Paris, UNESCO/OECD available at, accessed 31 August 2012, still available 26 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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