Internal Quality Review at UCL

contact: Sandra Hinton, Quality Assurance Manager, Student and Registry Services


1 Introduction

1.1 Internal Quality Review (IQR) is one of the most important parts of UCL's academic quality assurance processes and strategy. First introduced in 1992 as Internal Quality Audit (IQA), IQR is a rolling programme, which operates on an approximately six-yearly cycle. Each academic department of UCL* is normally reviewed once during each cycle, as are a number of interdisciplinary degree programmes.

2 Purposes of Internal Quality Review

2.2 An important purpose of IQR is to review a department's operations in relation to statements of policy and good practice which appear in UCL's Academic Manual. But IQR is not merely a compliance-testing mechanism. It also aspires to be a genuinely developmental process - an opportunity for departments to review and, in partnership with the review team, identify opportunities for enhancing their existing quality assurance structures and systems.

3 Essential Principles of Internal Quality Review

  • IQR is a crucial source of evidence that UCL’s internal QME processes are robust and effective;
  • while IQR includes an important quality monitoring aspect, it should also serve as a genuine aid to academic units in enhancing the quality of their provision;
  • IQR needs to be conducted in a consistent and systematic fashion. An important way of promoting consistency and departmental confidence in the review process and enabling comparability is by (i) briefing reviewers and secretaries to review teams and (ii) advance briefing of representatives of academic units being reviewed;
  • IQR affords a department the opportunity to contribute to the development of the review team's agenda, by means of a self-evaluative statement. The SES, which should form the starting point of the IQR process, allows a department to identify its own strengths and weaknesses and to identify particular issues that it wishes to explore with the review team;
  • in order to rationalise departmental effort and to assist departmental planning, the IQR timetable should, where relevant and feasible, be harmonised as much as possible with the timetable for the accreditation of programmes by professional and statutory bodies.
  • The review team will normally comprise five reviewers and an administrative secretary. Three reviewers will be members of staff of UCL, one will be a student reviewer and one an external reviewer. The members of review teams will be appointed by QMEC.

4 Summary of Internal Quality Review Process

4.1 Once the department has submitted the SES, with supporting documentary evidence, each IQR comprises five main stages:

  • a visit by the review team to the Department, normally lasting one working day when interviews with relevant staff and students of the Department take place;
  • production of an IQR report;
  • preparation by the Department of a preliminary plan of action to be taken in response to the recommendations contained in the IQR report
  • a meeting between the review team and the Department at an agreed point after the review (and after the IQR report has been finalised). The main purpose of the meeting to is to discuss the Department’s preliminary plan of action in response to the findings of the review team as set out in their report
  • subsequent consideration by QMEC’s Internal Quality Review Panel of (i) the IQR report and (ii) the Department's action plan.

5 Details of the Internal Quality Review Procedure

5.1 Further information on the IQR procedure and the UCL quality processes which underpin IQR is available on the UCL website in:

[Further information on IQR is also available from Academic Services: contact Sandra Hinton (Quality Assurance Manager - telephone 020 7679 8590/internal extension 28590 - e-mail - s.hinton [at] ucl.ac.uk) or Jason Clarke (Director of Academic Services - telephone 020 7679 8594/internal extension 28594 - e-mail - jason.clarke [at] ucl.ac.uk).] 

* Except where otherwise indicated, 'department', in the context of these Guidelines, means 'the unit of activity being reviewed'; this will in most cases mean an academic department of UCL or an interdepartmental degree programme, although ‘department’ in these Guidelines also subsumes relevant academic units which are not formally academic departments established by Council. Responsibilities for (i) quality management and (ii) oversight of quality management have been defined in a number of such academic units of UCL. In some cases, the unit itself is subject to IQR. Where this is not the case, QMEC has agreed that, where quality management or oversight of quality management of such a unit is the responsibility of an established academic Department, the IQR of that department should include review of the unit's operations and of the department's quality management responsibilities therefor. QMEC has also agreed that, where oversight of quality management of such a unit is the responsibility of a UCL faculty, the IQR of the unit or of the academic Department with which the unit is most closely associated should include review of the faculty's oversight of quality management.A large number of alternative UCL academic units offering taught programmes have been created since the previous schedule was published in 2007-08. For the purpose of confirming the IQR schedule for 2013-14 – 2018-19, QMEC officers have developed criteria for defining whether these should, in broad terms, be reviewed discretely, or as part of the IQR of the academic unit with which they are most closely associated. This has now been clarified in respect of these units and the process will be repeated each year to identify any new academic units which should be included within the scope of IQR.

August 2013