Vigorous internal quality assurance
How can you make sure your IQA process is vigorous and secure?
15 July 2014
For an internal quality assurance (IQA) process to be considered vigorous and secure it must contain all of the following actions:
Namely – someone in the team has to produce a strategy, plan and manage the entire learning process, provide support and monitor team members, plus keep detailed records. These actions require both initial development and ongoing maintenance.
It’s fair to say that the entire IQA process requires considerable expertise and - that most rare of commodities - time. ‘Time is money’ and all managers know that balancing the needs of the organisation with the available budget is always a challenge……so why bother with a vigorous IQA system at all?
There are benefits for organisations in having strong IQA processes though these are sometimes perceived to be difficult to quantify. These include:
- Improved learner experience
- Accelerated achievement time and rates
- Clear direction, support and guidance for team members
- A formal reporting and accountability structure
- Improved cost-efficiency in programmes
- Support for processes such as self-assessment and contracting
- Regulatory requirements met.
As with many procedures, when an IQA process is circumvented reduced or even discontinued there is a time lapse before the loss of these benefits is clearly visible. This means that there may be months between the IQA process faltering and the negative results becoming tangible.
Huge risks can potentially arise from poor or incomplete internal quality assurance that is not vigorous and does not identify issues early in the delivery of a qualification. It is no exaggeration to say that these risks have the potential to do irreparable damage to a learning provider. The major and most dramatic ones include:
- Non-compliance with regulations and assessment strategies
- Awarding Organisations withhold certification
- Awarding organisations withdraw previously awarded certificates
- Negative publicity
- Loss of contracts with funding agencies.
It would be a reckless manager who assessed these risks as being manageable or acceptable. So will you be investing in your IQA process to make it more vigorous?