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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Internal quality monitoring

core definition

Internal quality monitoring (IQM) is a generic term to refer to procedures within institutions to review, evaluate, assess, audit or otherwise check, examine or ensure the quality of the education provided and/or research undertaken.

explanatory context

Internal monitoring operates at three levels (the institution, the course and the module).

Internal monitors include:

·      institutional units, such as audit and assessment units, institutional research units, management information units (such as statistics section of Registry/Central administration);

·      sub-committees of academic boards/senate;

·      standing institutional audit and review bodies;

·      specially convened review boards;

·      faculty-based units;

·      sub-committees of faculty boards;

·      programme boards (or sub-committees, programme directors);

·      individual teachers and researchers;

·      student organisations;

·      formal or ad hoc groups of students at programme or module level;

·      external examiners:

·      invited consultants: Jiménez, Escalante and Aguirre-Vasquez (1997, p. 265), for example, discuss the role played in 1989 by independent external experts in helping the educational community at the Autonomous University of Southern Baja California learn to adapt to changing conditions. They conclude that it is important, when using external experts, not to become dependent on them but rather to learn from them.

analytical review

The term internal quality monitoring tends not to be defined as such but is used internationally. Campbell and Rozsnya (2002), for example, refer to institutions’ ‘internal quality monitoring or academic processes as a whole’ in their analysis of quality processes in institutions in Eastern Europe and Alean-Kirkpatrick et al. (2002) write about ‘Internal quality monitoring of the teaching at the ETH, Zurich’.


One of EUA’s key goals, for example, is ‘to strengthen universities’ capacity to monitor their quality internally’ (Jensen, 2003). HEA (2002) notes:

The EUA adopts a dynamic methodological approach to evaluation.  It focuses on the universities’ capacity to change, including their strategic planning and internal quality monitoring, and examines if all the preconditions are assembled to make each and every institution more adaptable and responsive to the changing higher education environment at local, national, European and international level.

The emphasis on IQM is made clear in the following view from EUA (2002):

As discussions in Europe intensify regarding the quality dimension of the Bologna process (which will contribute to promote mobility and European competitiveness), the European higher education sector is at risk of witnessing the development of external procedures that could be heavy-handed and potentially negative in altering the mission and function of higher education towards narrow economic interests. The only way to protect it from this risk is to develop robust internal quality monitoring, guided by academic rather than merely economic imperatives.

associated issues

Martin Trow (1995, p. 22) argues that ‘internal reviews and assessments are more accurate and fruitful than those done by outsiders’ a view reinforced by Bente Kristensen in her view of the Danish system. She notes that, while there can be a fruitful synergy between external and internal processes, external monitoring can never stand alone and ‘will never be able to replace valuable internal quality monitoring’ (Kristensen, 1997, p. 91).


Using data from IQM for enhancement

Internal quality procedures are usually predicated upon the collection of data. Apart from financial data and enrolment statistics, institutions collect a wide range of data about the services they provide including:

·      student progression;

·      surveys of student views;

·      surveys of recent graduates;

·      employer views of graduates.

·      internal peer review of teaching;

·      internal audits of quality procedures.


Most exercises are designed to inform quality judgements with a view to enhancing the quality of provision, for example, peer reviews of teaching are designed to share good practice, or surveys of students, graduates or employers are designed to identify areas of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. A considerable amount of data about stakeholder views is generated, which is designed to provide feedback primarily for quality-improvement purposes. To be effective in quality improvement, data collected from surveys and peer reviews must be transformed into information that can be used within an institution to effect change. Furthermore, this information must be linked into a process of action and feedback. In short, there must be a means to close the loop between data collection and effective action (Harvey, 2000).

related areas

See also



external quality monitoring

internal institutional audit

quality culture



Alean-Kirkpatrick, P., Hanni, H. & Lutz, L., 1997, ‘Internal quality monitoring of the teaching at the ETH, Zurich: model design and initial impacts’, Quality in Higher Education, 3(1), pp. 67ff.

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 University Association (EUA), 2002, Guidelines: Quality Culture Project 2002–2003.

Harvey, L., 2000, ‘Internal improvement and external evaluation’, a keynote presentation at the Universidae de Chile, Santiago, October 2000

Higher Education Authority [of Ireland] (HEA), 2004, Quality Review of Universities in Ireland, March’, page not available 3 January 2017.

Jensen, H.T., 2003, ‘Consolidating a quality culture in European universities?’ keynote by the Chair, Steering Committee, EUA Institutional Evaluation Programme, Quality Culture Project, Graz Convention, 29–31 May, 2003.

Jiménez, J., Escalante, J.C, & Aguirre-Vasquez, J., 1997, 'The role of external experts intervention in higher education for radical change', Tertiary
Education and Management
, 3 (3), pp. 249–58.

Kristensen, B., 1997, 'The impact of quality monitoring on institutions: a Danish experience at the Copenhagen Business School', Quality in Higher Education,
3(1), pp. 87–94.

Trow, M., 1995, 'Aspects of quality in higher education' in Trow, M., (1995), Two Essays on Quality in Higher Education. Stockholm, Kanslersämbetets Skriftserie
1995:2, pp. 7–27.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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