The State of Quality in Higher Education 2020



New report from Irish quality regulator highlights the role of quality assurance in improving student experience  


Quality and Qualifications Ireland has published a review of quality across the Irish public higher education sector for the period September 2018 to August 2019.  The reportbased on 21 annual institutional quality reports submitted to QQI by universities and institutes of technology throughout Ireland, provides examples of good practice in how quality assurance and quality improvement can deliver real impact for students.​

Quality in Irish Higher Education 2020 aims to highlight and share examples of good practice as well as identifying themes and key areas of focus for higher education institutions (HEIs) in the future. Key findings from the report show that:  

  • Public HEIs are committed to continuous development and improvement of their quality assurance (QA) frameworks and, for new institutions such as Technological University Dublin, establishing new frameworks 

  • Significant work is being undertaken across institutes of technology bidding for technological university status to align their quality assurance processes and to raise their research profile 

  • Financial constraints remain a concern across the sector with reduced investment in physical infrastructure and staff resourcing, however, many institutions have developed innovative ways to create new funding streams 

  • There has been a renewed focus from institutes of technology on quality assurance following their recent designation as independent awarding bodies 

  • Great strides have been made in platforming gender, diversity, equality and inclusion policies with most HEIs reporting attainment or renewal of the Advance HE Athena SWAN bronze award 

  • A wide range of supports for learners aimed at increasing success, improving student retention and progression are available across all institutions 

  • The learner is at the heart of a range of activities and student feedback informs many enhancement initiatives 

  • A strong desire exists to strengthen diversity and inclusion across the student population and improve access, progression and retention for students from minority and traditionally disadvantaged backgrounds 

  • Quality assurance and enhancement activities have been mainstreamed within most institutional strategies. ​

Responding to the publication of the reports, Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, said,  

“These important publications by QQI showcase a community of universities and institutes of technology dedicated, both individually and collectively, to ensuring quality across their teaching, learning and research activities.  They reveal the myriad ways in which quality is delivered and how, quality has remained a central pillar in the learning experience of students throughout the country. This has served the sector well in responding to the challenges of Covid-19.” 

Dr Bryan Maguire, QQI Director of Quality Assurance, emphasised the importance of these reports,  

‘These reports demonstrate how quality assurance and quality improvement activities are central to the student experience across the diverse range of activities within universities and institutes of technology.  It is encouraging to see that internal quality assurance structures continue to provide robust supports to institution’s online models of teaching, learning and assessment.  

This review report is accompanied by Quality in Action in Irish Higher Education 2020, a collection of case studies from across institutions illustrating the key findings. ​