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QAA Scotland publishes evaluation of ELIR 4 review method

Date: January 19 - 2022

The Enhancement-led Institutional Review (ELIR) 4 cycle will come to an end in April 2022 with the publication of reports from the final two reviews in the cycle - for Abertay University and the University of the Highlands and Islands. This marks a key moment in the university sector as we turn our focus to developing the next review method and responding to the Scottish Funding Council’s wide-reaching Review of Tertiary Education and Research.

We have laid the groundwork for developing the next review method through a comprehensive evaluation of ELIR 4. Starting with a gap mapping of ELIR reviewer and institutional survey returns, we focused in on five key topics and used those to develop a set of focus group questions:

  • Contextualisation
  • Balance between assurance and enhancement
  • ELIR documentation
  • Outcomes and reporting
  • Process - for example, the gap between planning and review visit, role of the QAA Scotland officer.

Reaching out to reviewers, institutional quality contacts, student association/union staff, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), and QAA Scotland officers, we listened to our key stakeholders to better understand their perspectives on the review process. Our effort was focused on exploring the changes to the method made for the fourth cycle so there was considerable emphasis on aspects such as contextualisation. The insight and contributions made by our colleagues were highly valuable. In addition to the focus group work, we also completed desk-based research on ELIR submission documentation and Outcome and Technical reports.

Our overall finding was positive. ELIR is a mature review method, it’s been operating for some 20 years and continues to serve the Scottish sector well as an enhancement-led approach to maintaining academic standards and improving the student experience. The evaluation report outlines nine recommendations. The areas for development are focused on making adaptation to the existing process with an emphasis on the continued evolution of our approach. For example, working with the SFC and the sector to determine how data and data expertise might enhance the ELIR documentary evidence base, and ongoing discussion about evidence and data at annual touch points with institutions.

Read the full report to find out more.