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IQR for ACE Impact has five key stages, as outlined below.

If you are interested in undertaking IQR for ACE Impact, you should submit an application and provide evidence demonstrating that your institution is eligible. This is scrutinised by a QAA panel that determines whether your institution can proceed to Stage 2.


The second stage of IQR for ACE Impact is a gap analysis. This identifies to what extent your institution can already provide evidence that meets international standards, these will include the core standards (10 standards in Part 1 of the ESG) and any local contexts and local, national and regional regulatory requirements and standards which are to be taken into account. The gap analysis also helps you to identify where you might need to carry out further development or capacity building to meet the required standards.


In preparation for this stage, your institution will be asked to carry out its own gap analysis of your systems and processes against the agreed standards, and compile and provide a set of evidence to support this.


The gap analysis will normally involve a visit to your institution by QAA quality assurance experts.

The review is the opportunity for your institution to demonstrate how it meets each of the agreed standards. Your institution provides a self-evaluation document, against the standards, together with supporting evidence. The self-evaluation may also include details of how you have addressed any matters raised in the gap analysis. The review team conducts the review through:

  • analysis of the self-evaluation document and evidence submitted in advance
  • a visit to the institution.

The QAA review team will then visit your institution, for between two and four days to check your approaches to quality assurance against your self-evaluation document, the evidence provided and the 10 standards.


There are three possible outcomes of the review:

  • the institution meets all the standards for IQR
  • the institution meets all the standards for IQR subject to meeting specific conditions
  • the institution does not meet the standards for IQR.

After the review, the panel will put forward a recommendation to the QAA Accreditation Panel on whether or not Institutional Accreditation should be awarded.


The QAA Accreditation Panel considers the report and recommendation and determines if your institution should be awarded Institutional Accreditation.

A successful IQR for ACE Impact enables you to demonstrate, through the right to display the IQR Accreditation Badge, that your quality assurance processes are both effective and comparable with international best practice. Refer to the Badge Guidelines for details of its use.

The accreditation period is five years and is subject to a satisfactory mid-cycle review.


The mid-cycle review takes place two to three years after a successful review and is normally desk-based. Your institution will be asked to provide evidence that it is addressing any recommendations and other findings from the IQR review, and a QAA Review Manager will evaluate your response. You will also be asked to outline any changes that might impact on the extent to which the standards are being met.

A successful mid-cycle review is required to retain the QAA Accreditation Badge for the full five years.


Method Handbook

Full information about each stage of the IQR for ACE Impact method is available in the handbook below.

International Quality Review for ACE Impact: Method Handbook for Higher Education Institutions Outside the UK

Publication date: 09 Nov 2022