QQI publishes Trinity College Dublin quality review

  • University commended for leadership in attracting research funding and culture of open discussion
  • Recommendations include improvements to governance structures

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has completed an institution-wide review as part of quality checks conducted by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), the state agency responsible for ensuring that further education and training and higher education providers maintain their internal quality assurance systems.

An independent team of national and international experts completed a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of the QA system of the university, recognising instances of good practice which deliver impact for students and staff, and making recommendations on areas for improvement in the coming years. The resulting quality review report has now been published by Quality and Qualifications Ireland.

The university was recognised for its activities in a number of areas:

  • its emphasis on dialogue, consultation, discussion and consensus-building in its governance and decision-marking processes; 
  • the significant achievements of the Trinity Education Project (TEP) in providing better opportunities for learners;
  • its successful pivot to online programme delivery during COVID-19; 
  • its national leadership in attracting significant grant funding;
  • the alignment of its fundraising campaign with research-related projects such as the redevelopment of the Old Library.

The expert panel also made a number of recommendations for improvements by the institution:

  • immediate tangible and formal improvements to current governance and management structures to increase the effectiveness, efficiency and agility of the university at a pivotal time for the institution;
  • enhanced monitoring of the implementation of academic policies, ensuring understanding by end-users (students and staff members), consistent implementation and overall compliance;
  • development and implementation of explicit, well-documented and clearly communicated employment, tenure and promotion criteria for academic staff at all levels, alongside a Performance Management and Development appraisal system for all staff;
  • development of an overarching learning and development strategy that aligns to the university’s developmental needs and strategic objectives for the decade ahead, with compulsory participation for all teaching staff in professional development in teaching and learning; 
  • provision of timely, clear and consistent information about key policies to all students, including those that relate to access, transfer and progression, learner supports, assessment and feedback; and paying particular attention to the needs of international students and students entering the college via access routes.

Speaking on the publication of the report, Professor Elmer Sterken, Former Rector Magnificus University of Groningen, who chaired the independent review panel said,

‘It was my privilege and honour to lead the Trinity College Dublin review team in Spring 2022. TCD is an outstanding international comprehensive research-driven university in the academic and wonderful traditional heart of the City of Dublin. The review panel is impressed by the quality of education and research and TCD’s ability to interact with society. The university is leading in all respects, not only from a national, but certainly also from an international perspective. And although the review had to take place online due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the panel was impressed by the strong motivation and commitment of university management, academic and supporting staff, external stakeholders and, last but not least, certainly students. As critical friends, the members of the review panel wish that TCD finds our report supportive and constructive to take the next steps on its road to future success.’

Responding to the publication of the report, Dr Linda Doyle, Trinity College Dublin Provost said,

‘We have ambitious plans for the future of Trinity. I note that the review team found that Trinity’s documented quality assurance procedures ‘constitute a robust integrated system that addresses the learning experience of students and notably covers teaching and assessment.’’

Dr Padraig Walsh, QQI CEO, commended TCD on its engagement with the Cinnte review process,

‘The Cinnte review process allows QQI to assess and report on how effectively our publicly-regulated higher education institutions are maintaining and enhancing quality in education. Our reviews explore how institutions have improved their teaching, learning and research systems to align with their own mission, quality indicators and benchmarks, and ultimately provide a quality learning experience for their students. It is encouraging to see that Trinity College Dublin has successfully completed the review process. There is much for the institution to be proud of and we look forward to working with its staff on implementing the recommendations of the independent panel.’

Cinnte reviews are one element of the broader quality framework for institutions which also includes Quality Assurance Guidelines; each institution’s Quality Assurance Procedures; Annual Quality Reports (AQR); and Dialogue Meetings. The Cinnte review cycle runs from 2017-2023. During this period, QQI has been organising and overseeing independent reviews of each of the universities, technological universities and institutes of technology.

Read the full TCD review report here.