Internal Quality Audit (IQA)

The University requires an assurance that Schools are discharging their responsibilities as it should and that it is offering a high quality student experience. Schools are asked to keep in mind that whilst the IQA will check that the School is discharging its responsibilities appropriately, a large part of the process is about highlighting what the School does well and sharing that with the rest of the University.

Quality Assurance updates the IQA Handbook regularly to take into account the feedback of Schools and Auditors. The latest version is always available from this website. Each School/RI is expected to undergo IQA once every five years. The schedule is considered and approved by the Quality and Academic Standards Sub-Committee (QAS). The current IQA Schedule covers the period 2010-2030.

IQA events usually take place over two days but may be longer if the school's provision is especially wide-ranging or complex.  The Panel review the documentation submitted and meet with the School's staff and students in meetings aim to be collegial and supportive in their outlook. As well as responding to the enquiries of the Panel, a significant part of the IQA process is about celebrating what the School does well. Therefore, all staff are encouraged to attend the meetings to talk frankly about the School, its strengths and weaknesses and all auditors are encouraged to ensure that areas of good practice are highlighted as much as possible.

A draft report will be prepared summarising the event, including the Panel’s discussions, conclusions and recommendations and the input of the External Advisory Team. If there are any conditions attached to the revalidation of any of the School's programmes, these will be included within the report, together with a deadline by which they must be completed. The report will include recommendations that the School is obliged to consider through means of an action plan which is to be developed in response and submitted to the Faculty Education Committee (FEC). The elements of good practice which the Panel will highlight will be disseminated as widely as possible throughout the University. When the School has approved the report and devised their action plan, this is submitted to Quality Assurance and received by QAS. 

Information for Schools

The IQA Panel wants to be able to provide the assurances that the University needs by looking at the work the School is already doing and talking to its staff and students about it. If there are areas that the Panel believes the School could be doing better, it will aim to say so constructively and in a way that gives the School scope for reflection. Perhaps more importantly, where there are areas in which the School is excelling, the Panel will want to commend this.

The role of Quality Assurance throughout is to support both the Panel as they conduct their work and to support the School in articulating the work that it does clearly and effectively. Quality Assurance will liaise with the School throughout the IQA process and the Validation and Review Officer is the main point of contact.

Planning

Before the start of the academic year in which the IQA is scheduled to take place, Quality Assurance will contact the School to start the planning stage. This involves organising an initial meeting to determine the scope of the audit, the External Advisory Team, the date of the IQA event and the deadlines for the submission of documentation.

Document Submission

The IQA process is based primarily on an audit of documentation provided centrally and by the School. The School needs to complete the Self Evaluation Document and provide some other information, details of which can be found in the IQA Handbook. Quality Assurance will set up an electronic repository of all of the documentation submitted for the IQA and the School will be asked to nominate individuals who will be responsible for uploading the required information by the agreed deadline.

Nominating IQA Panel members

Quality Assurance oversees the appointment of Auditors for each IQA as far in advance as possible. Each Panel will normally be comprised of:

  • Audit Chair, normally a member of University Executive Committee;
  • Two Internal Auditors, one from outside of the Faculty which the School belongs to;
  • External Advisors (usually two) who are academic staff with appropriate subject-specific knowledge;
  • External Programme Assessors are engaged, if needed, to provide additional reports on the School's academic provision;
  • Student Auditor, usually a sabbatical officer of KeeleSU or the KPA;
  • KIITE representative focusing on learning and teaching enhancement issues;
  • Audit Secretary, also Quality Assurance Advisor to the Panel;
  • The Head of Academic Quality and Student Conduct is an ex-officio member of all IQA Panels.

Information for Internal Auditors

The role of the Internal Auditors in this process is essential in ensuring that Schools feel supported to talk openly and frankly about their strengths and weaknesses. As such, the University encourages IQA Panels to conduct their business:

  • In a spirit of collegiality;
  • In a way that engages in a supportive, peer review process;
  • With a focus on the student experience;
  • As transparently as possible;
  • With an emphasis on the identification and sharing of innovation and good practice.

As well as being an excellent staff development opportunity for colleagues, membership of an IQA Panel is intended to offer close insight into the operation of another School, providing an opportunity to learn from good practice as well as affirming the strengths of the Auditor's own School.

Briefing for Internal Auditors

Quality Assurance runs briefing sessions for colleagues who have already been appointed to an IQA Panel or who are thinking of self-nominating to become an auditor. Further information about becoming an auditor can be obtained from the Validation and Review Officer.

Scrutiny of documents and reports

Auditors are invited to consider the documentation provided in relation to the points outlined in the IQA Handbook. All Auditors are asked to submit possible lines of enquiry to be considered at the IQA event.

Information for External Advisory Teams

An important way that the University assures itself of the quality and standards of its Schools and the programmes they deliver is to involve colleagues external to Keele. Our External Advisory Team plays a key role in the IQA process. External Advisory Teams are comprised of:

  • External Advisors – colleagues who attend the event and are invited to review a specific programme or programmes offered by the School by compiling a report. Their knowledge and expertise is relied on by other Panel members, most of whom are not experts in the School's discipline.
  • External Programme Assessors – colleagues who do not attend the event and are invited to review a specific programme or programmes offered by the School by compiling a report. External Programme Assessors are engaged where either the volume of programmes to be revalidated is beyond what is manageable by the External Advisors or beyond the scope of their field.

External Advisory Team members receive payment for their involvement in the IQA process. Further information about this can be obtained from the Validation and Review Officer.