Minister Mitchell O’Connor launches two QQI reports to enhance quality in Higher Education

Mary Mitchell O Connor, T.D., Minister for Higher Education, today launched two reports by the national regulator for quality in Further and Higher Education:

· Quality within higher education which is a summary report of the quality assurance and quality enhancement activities in publicly funded higher education institutions pertaining to the previous academic year; and

· Professional Body Accreditation in Higher Education Institutions in Ireland which was commissioned by QQI to establish a clearer picture of the professional accreditation landscape in Ireland.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor indicated: “These reports provide evidence of the commitment of our publicly funded higher education institutions to maintain and promote quality of teaching and learning. There are positive messages in terms of the emergence of a ‘quality’ culture within our institutions and in how our institutions are using data collated through national surveys or at institutional level to improve the student experience”.

The key findings from Quality within Higher Education include the following:

· Work is continuing across HEIs to improve the student experience, with institutions continuing to focus on initiatives aimed at enhancing the first-year experience and increasing progression rates.

· The profile of quality offices within HEIs is increasing, while Quality Assurance is also becoming an area of growing strategic importance to Irish HEIs.

· Data continues to play an increasing role in QA in Irish HEIs, with the Irish Survey of the Student Experience (ISSE) in particular providing a way for institutions to benchmark nationally.

The report on Professional Body Accreditation in Higher Education Institutions in Ireland was produced by the Professional Association Research Network (PARN) in collaboration with all the universities, institutes of technology and those private independent providers availing of accreditation for programmes from professional bodies.

The report highlights the scale of professional body accreditation activity, with over 140 professional bodies active in this area. The report highlights the benefits to higher education institutions of accreditation activity but also identifies that these engagements can be resource intensive.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor commented: “The PARN report provides for the first time a clear picture of the professional accreditation landscape in Irish higher education. I expect that it will allow QQI to identify where efficiencies can be made in the future and to explore future data sharing opportunities which will reduce the impact of such accreditation on our higher education institutions while maintaining the benefits to institutions and their students”.

The two reports are available on the QQI website www.qqi.ie