Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-22, 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 20 January, 2022 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2022.


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Internal institutional audit

core definition

Internal institutional audit is a process that institutions undertake for themselves to check that they have procedures in place to assure quality, integrity or standards of provision and outcomes across the institution.

explanatory context

Internal institutional audit is also known as internal review in the UK.

Note that this is distinct from financial auditing.

Villar and Allegre (2007) claim, using the core definition above (unreferenced), that "internal institutional audit was the process that Spanish universities had undertook for themselves to check that they had procedures in place to assure quality, integrity or standards of provision and outcomes across the universities".

analytical review

The UNESCO definition implies institutional internal audits:

Internal Audit: There are currently three main modes for the provision of internal audit within higher education: (i) in-house teams employed as staff members by the respective institutions; (ii) audit consortia (which may provide services to a number of clients both within and outside the sector); and (iii) accountancy firms that undertake internal audits. (Vlãsceanu et al., 2004, p. 23)


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

Validation audit: The institution reviews its own processes (as it should do from time to time), and reports the results of the review in special documentation. In determining whether the result is valid, the EQR [External Quality Review] agency will inevitably do some direct [external institutional] auditing, i.e. it will check whether processes claimed to be effective in fact are.


Staffordshire University (2004) has an Internal Quality Audit Handbook, which states:

Quality Audit has a crucial role in helping to ensure that the procedures and, as a consequence, the systems which exist in the institution are understood by those involved in them, followed by those operating them and regularly reviewed with a view to improving them.


University of Nottingham (2004) describes it internal audit process as follows:

University Quality Audit: At University level the University Quality Audit (# 39) system provides a systematic check on Schools' level of understanding of, and compliance with, the Quality Manual. We have been operating an internal quality assurance process since 1991, originally termed "Faculty Audit". Since then the system has evolved substantially, the key change being a gradual move from a "developmental" stance to one of compliance checking. We have throughout, however, tried to emphasise the identification of good practice. In 1998/99 we reviewed and amended the Faculty Audit process as follows: the School to be audited is asked to complete a "diagnostic questionnaire" as candidly as possible. The questionnaire maps on to the key requirements in the Quality Manual, and the completed questionnaire is reviewed by the UQA team, together with other required documents, prior to the audit visit. This enables the audit team to focus in on any areas of difficulty perceived by the School itself and to triangulate such perceptions by asking relevant questions of the staff and students during a visit. This does not of course preclude the team from enquiring into other areas. The UQA now draws its membership from the whole University, rather than the Faculty in which the School is located, and includes both academic and administrative staff and students. This larger pool not only assists in finding members but provides views from a membership outwith the Faculty.


This description does suggest that there is a fine distinction between internal institutional audit and internal sub-institutional audit (such as faculty audit).

associated issues

related areas

See also


external institutional audit

external sub-institutional audit

internal sub-institutional audit

management audit


Staffordshire University, 1998, Internal Quality Audit Handbook,, not available 18 January 2012.

University of Nottingham, 2004, Quality Assurance Office, The Management of Quality and Standards, undated, accessed November, 2004, not available 18 January 2012.

Villar, L.M. and Allegre, 2007, 'Online Programme of Excellence Model (OPEM)', International Journal of Social and Human Sciences, 1, pp. 343–50.

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 2004–2022

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