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Queries related to quality review can be directed to the UCD Quality Office:

Room 118B
UCD Tierney Building
University College Dublin
Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

Ph. +353 1 716 1036



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When will my unit be reviewed?

Each unit within the University will be reviewed on a 7-8 year cycle. A timetable for review is agreed by the Academic Council Committee on Quality (ACCQ), which may occasionally be revised. The current schedule for review may be viewed on the UCD Quality Office website ( From time to time thematic reviews are undertaken and this may also involve the participation of some unit(s).

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Can the quality review date of my Unit be changed?

As the review schedule is agreed for a 7-8 year cycle it is only in exceptional circumstances that a unit review date may be changed, for example, accreditation visits or organisational restructuring. Requests to change the year that a review is scheduled to take place should be made in writing to the Academic Council Committee on Quality via the UCD Quality Office.

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How long does the Quality Review process take?

The review process is divided into five key stages - typically:

Stage 1: Ten months (Pre Review Site Visit) – Initial briefing meeting for the Head of Unit by the UCD Quality Office ; establish a review co-ordinating committee; preparation of the Self-assessment Report (SAR); collate supporting documentation.

Stage 2: One month (Pre Review Site Visit) – Submission of the SAR for consideration by the Review Group and site visit timetable prepared.

Stage 3: Site Visit – typically over 3-4 days.

Stage 4: Eight weeks (Post Review Site Visit) – Review Group Report finalised; Unit under review then has a further 12 weeks to prepare a quality improvement plan (QIP).

Stage 5: 18 months (Post Review Site Visit) – Unit prepares a progress report regarding the implementation of the QIP. A Progress Review Meeting is held to consider the Progress Report; typically chaired by the Registrar and Deputy President.

Further details are contained in Appendix 2 of the Guidelines for Internal Periodic Review.

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What is the length of the Self-assessment Report?

The Self-assessment Report (SAR) should not be a lengthy document. Typically it should be no longer than 40 pages excluding appendices. The focus of the report is to act as a basis for dialogue between the unit and the Review Group, and the emphasis should be on critical self-evaluation of how effective and successful the unit believes the various aspects of its provision to be, including its mechanism for ongoing routine quality monitoring.

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How are reviewers selected?

A typical review group might include:

  • Two senior UCD staff (one internal reviewer will be cognate to the unit under review) - one of whom acts as chair (this is currently under review) and the other as deputy chair.
  • Two external experts in the discipline, chosen from a list of at least six nominees supplied to the UCD Quality Office by the unit co-ordinating committee.

It should be noted that the number of reviewers may vary, due to the size and diversity of the unit under review, however, the number of internal UCD members will not exceed the number of external members. Any working relationships with the proposed externs should be declared and both genders should be represented on the nominee list.

The list of proposed reviewers will be considered and approved by a sub-group of ACCQ and the relevant College Principal/Vice-President. Additional reviewers may be added or considered. The final selection will be independent of the unit under review.

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Is it possible to have more than two extern members?

The number of extern members may vary due to the size and diversity of the unit under review, but it is also subject to budget constraints pertaining at the time. However, the norm is two externs and any requests for additional externs should be discussed with the UCD Quality Office.

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Can we propose our current extern examiner as a Review Group member?

No, it is not possible to propose the current extern examiner. External Reviewers should not normally have had close association with the unit during the previous 4 years.

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Can I contact the Review Group during the review?

To ensure the integrity of the independent review process, any essential contact with the Review Group should be conducted through the UCD Quality Office. Travel and accommodation arrangements, briefing material, Self-assessment report and site visit documentation are the responsibility of the UCD Quality Office. This includes post site visit contact until the Review Group report is finalised.

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Can I see another Unit’s Self-assessment Report?

No. The Self-assessment Report is the main vehicle through which the unit conveys information about itself. In order to encourage a critical self-evaluation the SAR remains confidential to the unit, University Senior Management, the Review Group and the UCD Quality Office. The report should be self critical, full and frank, not attempting to hide problems and identifying strengths. It should also be developmental, identifying possible scenarios to improve provision within the unit. Guidance and prompts to consider in preparing the report are outlined in Appendix three of the Guidelines for Internal Periodic Review.

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What is the composition of the Unit Quality Co-ordinating Committee?

Insofar as it is possible, the co-ordinating committee should be representative of the key staff groupings within the unit under review, for example, academic / research / administrative /technical / and other staff. The Head of unit should be a member but not necessarily chair the committee. In a school review a student should be included, preferably a postgraduate student. The committee should be operational and not too large.

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I am a member of staff - what is my role in the process?

As a member of staff you should be familiar with the quality process and participate and contribute as required, to the preparation of the SAR; the site visit and the unit review process generally. Each staff member should make themselves available for the site visit and subsequent implementation of review group recommendations. In a larger unit it is unlikely that all staff will be timetabled to meet with the Review Group.

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My unit is undergoing external professional accreditation. Can this report be submitted as the self-assessment report?

Typically, documentation developed as part of external accreditation is focussed at programme level including structures, curriculum, assessment and supports. Internal Quality Review (as required by the Universities Act 1997) is much wider in scope. On a case by case basis, however, documentation developed for external accreditation purposes may be recycled for internal review – the suitability of pre-existing documentation should be discussed with the UCD Quality Office at an early stage of the quality review process.

Note: typically, it is a pre-condition of professional accreditation that a programme and/or unit can provide evidence of having adhered to internal quality assurance procedures.

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My School is developing a new collaborative programme. What steps should be taken prior to submission to the University’s committee(s) for formal approval.

A formal process is in place for developing new programmes which also incorporates procedures and guidance for new and existing collaborative programmes. This is contained in the document UCD Programme Development, Approval and Review Framework available from Academic Secretariat. Advice is also available from the UCD Quality Office.

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What supports are available to the Unit under review?

The UCD Quality Office provides ongoing support for Units throughout the process and a dedicated individual is available to support, advise and facilitate unit heads and co-ordinating committees during the review process and SAR preparation. UCD Support Units, such as the Library, Institutional Research, UCD Registry, UCD Research, UCD HR are also available to provide data and/or meet with the Review Group.

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Where do I go within the University for statistical data?

Statistical data enquiries should in the first instance, be directed to the Director of Institutional Research, Maura McGinn at or 716 1088.

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How is the date of the site visit determined?

The site visit date is determined by the unit under review in consultation with the UCD Quality Office. It should be organised early in the preparatory stages of the review process, to facilitate the organisation of review groups and to ensure all staff members, students and stakeholders are available to meet the review group.

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What is a typical site visit timetable and who meets with the Review Group?

The site visit timetable typically takes place over a two/three day period. The Review Group will meet with unit staff, College Principal/Vice-President, relevant University support staff, students (undergraduate and postgraduate), employers and any other relevant stakeholders. A typical site visit timetable is included as appendix 7 in the Guidelines for Internal Periodic Review (

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Who is responsible for organising the site visit timetable?

The UCD Quality Office provides a timetable template for the site visit – if necessary, and following agreement by the UCD Quality Office, the timetable may be modified on a case-by-case basis. The unit under review, in consultation with the UCD Quality Office, is responsible for organising the staff/student/stakeholder groups to meet with the Review Group. A draft timetable should be available for discussion approximately 4 weeks before the site visit, to allow for adjustments and notifying staff and students. The Review Group may also review the timetable and request changes following receipt of the SAR.

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Who organises refreshments and meeting room(s) for the Review Group?

Refreshments and meeting rooms are organised by the unit in consultation with the UCD Quality Office. This cost is covered by the UCD Quality Office.

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What happens after the site visit is completed?

Following completion of the site visit, the Review Group will finalise the draft of the Review Group report (prepared prior to departure). This normally takes about 8 weeks and the report is forwarded to the UCD Quality Office by the Chair, with agreed sign-offs by each member of the Review Group. It is then forwarded to the Unit to note any factual errors and/or propose a short response to the report. The report is then finalised and copies of the report are forwarded to the Unit under review, the President, Registrar and rele vant University Officers, the Review Group members and any other persons authorised by the President/Registrar.

Review Group reports will then be considered by the relevant University committees: academic units (SMT Academic); Support units (SMT Executive). A summary of the Report will also be considered by UCD Governing Authority. A report of review outcomes is also made to ACCQ. The Unit then moves into the follow-up stage and implementation of the Review Group recommendations. A Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) is developed by the unit, which sets out how each of the recommendations in the Review Group Report is to be addressed. The UCD Quality Office will provide a template for the QIP.

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How are the Review Group recommendations addressed?

Completion of the Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) should be undertaken in consultation with the Quality Office, and the College Principal/Vice-President. This is normally completed 12 weeks after the Review Group report is finalised. All recommendations must be addressed as provided under the QIP format i.e. recommendations already implemented, recommendations to be addressed in the coming year, longer term goals to be implemented over five years, and those recommendations which are considered impractical or unreasonable to implement. The QIP is considered by a subgroup of ACCQ and includes a member of the Review Group. Implementation of the QIP is reviewed through a progress report and follow-up meeting.

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When will the Unit have to prepare a Progress Report?

The Progress report is normally prepared 12 months following the Quality Improvement Plan being finalised and approved by a sub-group of ACCQ. However, the ACCQ may (if circumstances require it) revise and recommend a shorter time period for submission which will be communicated to the unit.

The Progress Review meeting is typically chaired by the UCD Registrar and Deputy President and includes a member of the Review Group and ACCQ; College Principal/Vice-President and 2-3 members of the unit.

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