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Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition

Operational variables referring to specific empirically measurable characteristics of higher education institutions or programmes on which evidence can be collected that allows for a determination of whether or not standards are being met. Indicators identify performance trends and signal areas in need for action and/or enable comparison of actual performance with established objectives. They are also used to translate theoretical aspects of quality, a process known as operationalization. An indicator must be distinguished from a measure, which is data used to determine the level of performance of an attribute of interest, and from a standard, which is the level of acceptable performance in terms of a specific numeric criterion. 


Informal learning is a result of work based activities or other everyday activities in family life or in pastime. This is not structured learning (learning goals, timeframe and learning support is not defined or provided) and, usually, does not result in issuance of an official document. While such learning may be intended, it, usually, is not.


The term refers to the accreditation of the whole institution, including all its programmes, sites, and methods of delivery, without any implication as to the quality of the study programmes of the institution. 


An evidence-based process carried out through peer review that investigates the procedures and the mechanisms by which an institution ensures its quality assurance and quality enhancement. It specifically addresses the final responsibility for the management of quality and standards that rests with an institution as a whole. 


Statements of what a learner is expected to know, understand, and/or be able to demonstrate after completion of a process of learning as well as the specific intellectual and practical skills gained and demonstrated by the successful completion of a unit, course, or programme. Learning outcomes, together with assessment criteria, specify the minimum requirements for the award of credit. Accumulation and transfer of credits is greatly facilitated if the learning outcomes have been precisely defined and if they specify achievements liable for credit acquirement. Learning outcomes are distinct from the aims of learning in that they are concerned with the achievements of the learner rather than with the overall intentions of the teacher.


There are currently three main modes for the provision of internal audit within higher education: (i) in-house team employed as staff members by the respective institutions; (ii) audit consortium (which may provide services to a number of clients both within and outside the sector); and (iii) consultancy firm that undertake internal audits.


The process of self-evaluation consists of the systematic collection of administrative data, the questioning of students and graduates, and the holding of moderated interviews with lecturers and students, resulting in a self-study report. Self-evaluation is basically a collective institutional reflection and an opportunity for quality enhancement. The resulting report further serves as a provider of information for the review team in charge of the external evaluation.

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