Internal Monitoring and Review

Icelandic HEIs are responsible for the quality of their activities. They are expected to maintain an internal quality system that is considered fit for purpose and operationally effective, and to implement internal monitoring and review processes that meet the standards set out in Part 1 of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG).

Formal requirements for internal quality assurance (IQA) are set out in Section IV of the Higher Education Act (63/2006) and in the Rules pertaining to quality assurance of teaching and research in higher education (1368/2018). HEIs are expected to maintain clear procedures ensuring that all academic areas and support units are subject to continuous internal monitoring and periodic internal quality review. Institutions are further required to publish a summary outlining the way in which they conduct their internal reviews. The results of these reviews must also be made public, accompanied by a description of how they are put into use for the purpose of enhancement. Institutions are expected to complete one full cycle of internal reviews between each institution-wide review.

IAQA issues guidelines on Monitoring and Internal Review, intended to provide support to staff in Icelandic higher education institutions (HEIs) who are responsible for internal monitoring and review of educational provision and research. The guidelines offer suggestions for approaching this work which align with the ESG, as well as examples of positive practice and tips. These can be adapted by each institution.

The quality management system

Icelandic HEIs fulfil their internal quality assurance responsibilities by maintaining a quality management system that is considered fit for purpose and operationally effective.

The main function of a quality management system is to ensure that institutions meet the expectations of internal and external stakeholders by fulfilling statutory and regulatory requirements, assigning clear responsibilities, addressing risks, and identifying enhancement opportunities with the aim of addressing future needs and expectations, increasing efficiency, improving services and reducing mistakes. Continuous improvement (the PDCA cycle) is at the heart of the quality management system.

The quality management system documents an institution’s processes and the management thereof. The system, maintained in a quality manual, is based on the institution’s quality policy and includes other policies, rules and regulations, procedures, work instructions and records management. The quality management system clarifies processes and responsibilities for all aspects of operations, including:

  • strategy development and implementation;
  • risk assessment and mitigation;
  • effective management of core processes;
  • performance evaluation and review; and
  • procedures for continuous improvement and enhancement.

An effective quality management system has a strong focus on leadership with evidence-based decision-making, as well as engagement and expertise of internal and external stakeholders. It considers the nature of the organisation, its context, and the needs and requirements of students and staff. It should result in effective education and research, satisfied students and staff, and positive impact on society. The performance of the quality management system should be evaluated periodically with the aim of continually improving its suitability and effectiveness.

An example of a quality management system based on the PDCA cycle.