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22 June 2024  

Quality Assurance

NUI Quality Assurance Cycle

NUI is responsible for the academic standards of its degrees and other qualifications awarded in the recognised colleges and provides guidance to the recognised colleges so they can ensure the quality of the learning experience offered in their institutions is comparable to that offered in the NUI constituent universities. Senate oversight of quality assurance ensures this comparability of standards.

Senate governs NUI's activities as a designated awarding body (DAB) for the recognised colleges that are linked providers (LP-RCs) and a number of quality assurance services that NUI provides to all recognised colleges. Operational business between NUI and its recognised colleges is conducted through individual steering committees. Quality assurance matters in the recognised colleges are reported to Senate three times a year.

NUI’s quality assurance activities include:

  1. Approval of the quality assurance procedures in institutions seeking NUI recognised college status;

  2. Annual academic programme monitoring through NUI-appointed external examiners, in accordance with NUI Senate policy;

  3. Appointing independent external assessors for new academic programmes leading to NUI qualifications;

  4. Periodic external review before NUI re-validation and re-accreditation of existing programmes;

  5. Institutional review of quality assurance effectiveness in recognised colleges that are linked providers of NUI.

All of these activities are guided by the relevant policies and procedures.

One of the most important quality assurance activities is the institutional review. NUI coordinates institutional review for recognised colleges that are linked providers of the University. Similarly, NUI undergoes its own external institutional review coordinated by Qualifications & Quality Ireland.


NUI’s QA Process for Institutional Review

Under its Charter and Statutes (as amended), NUI is empowered to recognise colleges of higher education and award degrees and other qualifications in those colleges, subject to the University being satisfied that the colleges and the courses they provide meet appropriate quality standards. Accordingly, NUI has ongoing responsibilities in relation to quality assurance (QA) and enhancement in these recognised colleges, in order to ensure comparability between NUI awards made in the recognised colleges and those made by the NUI’s constituent universities.

This longstanding oversight role in the recognised colleges was supplemented by the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012 (‘the 2012 Act’), which defined NUI as a designated awarding body (DAB). While an NUI recognised college may be a DAB in its own right, a recognised college that does not have this status is defined by the 2012 Act as a ‘linked provider’ of NUI.

NUI’s overall approach to quality policy is that responsibility for quality lies with the linked providers themselves, guided by NUI as the awarding body and in line with national policy and European best practice guidelines, where relevant.

The 2012 Act charges NUI with reviewing the effectiveness of the quality assurance and enhancement policies and procedures of its linked providers at least once every seven years following initial approval.

NUI is primarily guided in this task by the Statutory Guidelines for the Review of Linked Providers by the National University of Ireland, issued by QQI in March 2019. Review of linked providers takes the form of an institutional quality assurance effectiveness review (‘institutional review’), which is an internationally recognised and accepted approach within the world of higher education. Institutional reviews evaluate the effectiveness of institution-wide quality assurance policies and procedures.


Institutional Review of the IPA

NUI currently has one recognised college that is also a linked provider, the Institute of Public Administration (IPA), which underwent an institutional review in 2021.

The final report of the review panel and the IPA’s formal response were submitted to NUI Senate in January 2022 for review. These documents informed the Senate’s revalidation of the IPA’s quality assurance policies and procedures for a further seven years.

Please click for the full suite of NUI quality assurance policies and procedures.

pdfPanel Report (418 kb)
pdfIPA Response (168 kb)

The QA Process for External Institutional Review of NUI

As a designated awarding body, NUI is subject to external review by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). In 2022-23, NUI underwent an institutional review as part of QQI’s CINNTE cycle of reviews of designated awarding bodies. This process is similar to the institutional review NUI facilitates in linked providers but is coordinated by an independent external body (QQI).

The CINNTE review process is underpinned by the relevant sections of the 2012 Act and is also in keeping with parts 2 and 3 of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area ESG 2015. Like NUI institutional reviews, it is based on the internationally accepted and recognised approach to reviews:

  • The publication of Terms of Reference
  • Development and submission of an Institutional Self-Evaluation Report (ISER)
  • An external assessment and site visit by a team of reviewers
  • The publication of a review report including findings and recommendations
  • A follow-up procedure to review actions taken in response to the report

This process takes 4-6 months. NUI established an internal working group to produce the ISER. Development of the ISER was a consultative exercise, involving engagement with key external stakeholders. However, the main focus of the ISER is on self-reflection which provides meaningful internal evaluation of effectiveness and identifies areas for further development.

NUI submitted the ISER in early November 2022 and the review team conducted a site visit in March 2023.

NUI had both the final report and the formal NUI response approved by the NUI Senate. QQI published these in a combined document (NUI Review Report) along with an NUI Quality Review Profile, which are also available below: