In April 2016, the Institute underwent a three-day review visit by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). The purpose of the QAA is to safeguard standards for all Higher Education institutions in the UK, which include Alternative Providers such as the IIS. The Higher Education Review (HER) is an in-depth review which examines every aspect of the Institute’s work that may impact the student experience, articulated around 19 expectations, 18 of which directly pertain to the mission and work of the IIS.
Following the Higher Education Review, the QAA has found the IIS compliant with all expectations. Moreover, the QAA report indicates that the overwhelming majority of expectations have been met with a “low” risk rating, demonstrating that the Agency displays clear confidence in the Institute’s approaches and policies.
In particular, the review team highlighted the Institute’s continuous support for student achievement and progression, the involvement of students in decision-making processes, and the ways in which relations and collaboration with alumni are fostered and maintained. The report stated:
“The Institute has a comprehensive Teaching Learning and Assessment Strategy. It includes five key aims: to provide a quality learning environment; to promote excellence and share good practice; to create a culture of success; to ensure students have the skills necessary for success in learning, personal development, and the enhancement of employability; and to ensure that assessment is an integral element of learning.”
Commenting on the results of the review, Dr Farhad Daftary, IIS Co-Director, said:
“The review by the QAA has reinforced that the Institute is able to operate at the highest standards within the UK Higher Education sector. It is clear that our structures and approaches deliver a high-quality experience to our students, as well as properly transmitting the complex and ground-breaking contents that the Institute’s research activity has developed over the past decades. A clear and recognisable mark of excellence, this result is the outcome of the continued dedication of our staff and the commitment of our students.”
Speaking about the academic standards of the Institute, Dr Laila Halani, Head of the Department of Graduate Studies commented:
“For a young institution like the IIS, it is a matter of immense pride that the academic standards and quality of our graduate programmes have been successfully benchmarked against leading, long-established institutions in the UK Higher Education sector. This success is the result of an ethos driven by the pursuit of excellence, and a commitment to continuous enhancement of the quality our programmes and student experience. It was an honour for the Department of Graduate Studies to collaborate with a range of stakeholders including students, faculty, ITREBs and members of other Departments on such a significant project.”
As well as involving staff from across the organisation, the HER interviewed students on their experience of studying with the Institute. In this regard, Ms Naureen Dhanani who was the Lead Student Representative for the HER commented:
“The HER was an incredible opportunity for the student body to come together and express their perspectives about their holistic experiences at The Institute of Ismaili Studies. Student participation in the review provided an opportunity for the diversity of the student experience to shine and was a clear reflection of the passion and commitment students feel towards the continual progress and improvement of the Institute.”
The final report which is published on the QAA website is available to view here.