External Academic Quality Assurance
As a public higher education provider, Cork Institute of Technology undergoes cyclical statutory external reviews of its institutional structures and academic quality assurance processes which serve to reaffirm and enhance public confidence in the quality of the Institute’s educational programmes and award standards. External quality assurance reviews are conducted within the quality framework of the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area under the oversight of Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), the national quality assurance authority for the higher education sector.
2010 Institutional Review
During the academic year 2010/2011, Cork Institute of Technology successfully completed its most recent Institutional Review. This comprehensive, five-yearly external review of all institutional functions confirmed the soundness and effectivity of CIT’s governance and management structures and reconfirmed CIT’s awarding powers under delegated authority to make taught and research awards to PhD level. In fact, the Expert Panel visiting CIT in November 2010 commended the Institute for its strong executive leadership team and “the effective engagement of the Academic Council with current issues despite its [large] size”.
The 2010 Institutional Review was organised by the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC), a predecessor agency of QQI, under the 1999 Qualifications (Education and Training) Act. It involved submission of self-evaluation documentation as well as a site visit from an internationally-based panel of external experts.
With the coming into force of the 2012 Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act, the review cycle for institutional reviews has been extended from five to seven years to align with the quality assurance cycles of the university sector. A follow-on review by QQI is therefore due to occur no later than the 2017/18 academic year.
The complete documentation for the 2010 Institutional Review is published on the QQI website and may be accessed via this link http://www.qqi.ie/Pages/Cork-Institute-of-Technology---Institutional-Review.aspx.
Extension of Awarding Powers for Research Awards
Two further reviews of the Institute’s postgraduate research degree provision, which the Institute underwent in June of 2013 and 2014 respectively, significantly extended CIT’s awarding powers for research awards under delegated authority.
The reviews were organised by Cork Institute of Technology under a devolved process agreed with QQI and involved peer review by panels of external experts with international representation. Though the organisation of the review lay with CIT, the Institute was happy that both panel composition and final decision on delegation, which was taken by QQI, should be retained as fully external elements, as CIT considered this degree of externality an important procedural safeguard to ensure a rigorous review against appropriate national and international benchmarks.
The 2013 review focused specifically on CIT’s arrangements for provision of doctoral research programmes in the area of Computing, while the subsequent review surveyed the overall institutional arrangements for research degree provision at CIT, with a particular focus on the Institute’s capacity to deliver Master’s level research programmes of high quality and standards across both established and emerging disciplines.
The successful completion of each of these reviews meant that CIT gained significant additional awarding powers to make research awards at both Masters’ and PhD levels.
As a result, CIT’s delegated authority now enables the Institute to make Master by Research (NFQ Level 9) awards in all disciplines, as well as doctoral awards (NFQ Level 10) in Science (Applied Physics, Biological Sciences, and Chemistry), Computing, Electronic Engineering, and Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering.