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International Programme Accreditation for ACE Impact (IPA for ACE Impact) has five key stages including analysing and evaluating your own processes, taking part in an external review by QAA’s peer reviewers and follow-up action planning.

If you are interested in undertaking IPA for ACE Impact, you should submit an application and provide relevant evidence demonstrating that the eligibility criteria are met. This is scrutinised by a QAA panel that determines whether your programme could proceed to the gap analysis stage.


The gap analysis stage is the opportunity for your institution to undertake a self-assessment of its processes to identify to what extent your programme can provide evidence that it is currently meeting the 10 standards in Part 1 of the ESG, and where it might need to carry out further development or capacity building to meet those standards. It is also the opportunity for you to learn more about IPA for ACE Impact and requirements for a review.

The gap analysis will normally involve a virtual visit to your institution by QAA quality assurance experts. It enables QAA to determine whether your programme is at a suitable point to proceed to Stage 3: Review.


The Review is the opportunity for your programme to demonstrate how it meets each of the 10 Standards of the ESG. The review team conducts the review through analysis of the evidence submitted and a visit to the institution.

The QAA review team will undertake a desk-based study of the documentation and other evidence that you provide in advance. The team will then visit your institution for between 2-4 days to check your approaches to quality assurance against your self-evaluation document, the evidence provided and the 10 ESG standards.

There are three possible outcomes of the review:

  • the programme meets all the standards for International Programme Accreditation for ACE Impact
  • the programme meets all the standards for International Programme Accreditation for ACE Impact subject to meeting specific conditions
  • the programme does not meet the standards for International Programme Accreditation for ACE Impact.

The review panel will put forward a recommendation to the QAA Accreditation Panel on whether International Programme Accreditation should be awarded.

QAA considers the report and recommendation and determines if the programme should be awarded Institutional Accreditation.

QAA notifies you by letter of their decision. Where accreditation is awarded, QAA will share the International Programme Accreditation Badge with you, together with details on how and where it can, and cannot, be used. The International Programme Accreditation Badge can be displayed on programme and marketing material for the period of the accreditation.

The accreditation period is 5 years and is subject to a satisfactory mid-cycle review which must be completed for the full 5 years' accreditation to be granted.

The mid-cycle review takes place 2-3 years after a successful review and is a desk-based study. Your programme team will be asked to provide evidence that it is addressing any recommendations and other findings from the IPA for ACE Impact review. Your programme team will also be asked to outline any changes in the programme that might impact on the extent to which the standards are being met. A QAA Review Manager, together with a QAA Reviewer, will evaluate your response.

A successful mid-cycle review is required to retain the QAA International Programme Accreditation Badge for the full 5 years.

Method Handbook

Full information about the IPA for ACE Impact method is available in the handbook below.

International Programme Accreditation for ACE Impact: Method Handbook for Higher Education institutions outside the UK

Publication date: 23 Nov 2023