Standards and guidelines

RCSI has developed internal quality assurance structures, policies and procedures in compliance with legislative requirements with oversight from Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). RCSI also takes cognizance of the European Standards and Guidelines and the policies and procedures of the National University of Ireland (NUI) in relation to programme validation.

The European standards and guidelines

Quality assurance (QA) in higher education is one of the key actions of the Bologna Process, which marked its 20th anniversary in 2019. The original Bologna Declaration (1999) encouraged the development of comparable criteria and methods for QA leading to the adoption of the ‘Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area’ (known as the ESG) in 2005.

The ESG, which were revised in 2015, have been adopted widely as a shared reference point for QA in higher education and, currently, over 20 national QA agencies in Europe are compliant with them, including Quality & Qualifications Ireland (QQI).

The ESG 2015 are based on four principles for quality assurance:

  • Higher education institutions have primary responsibility for the quality of their provision and its assurance
  • Quality assurance responds to the diversity of higher education systems, institutions, programmes and students
  • Quality assurance supports the development of a quality culture
  • Quality assurance takes into account the needs and expectations of students, all other stakeholders and society

Quality assurance in Irish higher education

The Universities Act 1997 set out statutory requirements for the operation of Irish universities, including the requirement for each university to establish internal quality assurance processes. As a University and a Designated Awarding Body, RCSI has developed internal QA structures, policies and procedures in compliance with legislative requirements. RCSI is also subject to oversight by Quality & Qualifications Ireland (QQI), the statutory body responsible for qualifications and quality assurance in higher education and in further education and training in Ireland.

In 2016, QQI published its overarching Policy on Quality Assurance Guidelines, which provides the structure and rationale for all QQI statutory guidelines addressing the higher and further education sectors. Subsequently, QQI has published a suite of core, sector-specific and topic-specific statutory guidelines for QA, including:

QQI Core Statutory QA Guidelines for use by all Providers PDF | 334.6 KB QQI Statutory QA Guidelines for Designated Awarding Bodies PDF | 210.9 KB QQI Statutory QA Guidelines for Providers of Research Degree Programmes PDF | 299.4 KB QQI Statutory QA Guidelines for Providers of Blended Learning Programmes PDF | 323.2 KB

RCSI takes cognisance of these statutory guidelines in developing its internal policies and procedures.Also, as a Recognised College of the National University of Ireland (NUI), RCSI takes cognisance of the guidelines, policies and procedures of the NUI in relation to the validation of educational programmes leading to degree awards and to quality assurance, including:

NUI and RCSI QA Relationship PDF | 1007.8 KB NUI Policy for Quality Assurance Enhancement PDF | 1183.7 KB Quality Assurance for Collaborative and Transnational Provision of Academic Programmes Leading to NUI Qualifications PDF | 130.1 KB Procedures and regulations for the approval of new programmes and programmes where there are major or minor changes to the content and overall learning outcomes PDF | 275.2 KB IHEQN Guidelines for Collaborative Provision PDF | 1071.3 KB

Please note, as a Designated Awarding Body, RCSI does not fall within scope of the NUI Policy/Procedures for the Approval of Quality Assurance Procedures in the Recognised Colleges (2017).