5.5 Use of Accreditation and Other External Reviews in the Institutional Quality Assurance Process

An accreditation review can usefully replace some of the requirements of a Cyclical Program Review. The IQAP may therefore allow for and specify the substitution or addition of some documentation or specific processes associated with the accreditation of a program, and will specify who is responsible for making this decision. Adaptations may be made for certain components of the program review process, but only when these elements are fully consistent with the requirements established in this Framework.

How a university approaches the question of whether to combine, coordinate or completely segregate the reviews depends on a number of factors, including:

  • Levels and complexity of program offered (undergraduate, graduate, professional);
  • Review cycle;
  • Qualifications required for reviewers;
  • Evaluation criteria; and
  • Issues currently faced by program and/or university

One common characteristic of both accreditation and quality assurance cyclical program review is the development of a self-study by the program undergoing review. However, combining a Cyclical Program Review and accreditation review can be challenging given the different purposes and evaluation criteria that apply[1]. Ultimately, while some stages of the review process may be substituted or augmented by an accreditation review, the evaluation criteria detailed in Section above must be addressed in the self-study and by the external reviewers and a Final Assessment Report, Executive Summary, Implementation Plan and subsequent monitoring reports, as detailed in Section 5.3.2 and 5.4, must be produced and approved for all programs.

A Record of Substitution or Addition, and the grounds on which decisions were made, is eligible for Cyclical Audit.


[1] A UNESCO glossary of basic terms and definitions for quality assurance and accreditation describes accreditation as a process by which a program or institution is evaluated to determine if it meets certain pre-determined minimal criteria or standards. In contrast, quality assurance processes are described as on-going and continuous evaluation for the purpose of quality improvement. Quality assurance processes include assessing, monitoring, guaranteeing, maintaining and improving (Quality assurance and accreditation: a glossary of basic terms and definitions - UNESCO Digital Library).