In May 2017, the Institute underwent a one-day monitoring 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 includes Alternative Providers such as the IIS.
The monitoring visit assesses the Institute’s continuing management of academic standards and the quality of its provision, and focuses on the progress made since the previous reviews. From the evidence provided in the annual return report and the monitoring visit itself, the review team concluded that the IIS has made commendable progress with implementing its action plan.
The QAA review team confirmed that the IIS have completed all the actions arising from the recommendations of the previous review within the specified timescales, and in some cases have enhanced the quality of the learning experience even further.
Commenting on the results of the review, Dr Farhad Daftary, IIS Co-Director, said:
“I am delighted that the QAA review team have been so positive about the improvements the Institute has made and the maintenance of our high standards in academic management and student engagement. The monitoring review has supported the claim that the Institute is able to observe the highest standards within the UK Higher Education sector. This is a robust and appreciable mark of excellence, and the outcome of the continued dedication of our staff and the commitment of our students.”
In particular, the review team highlighted several areas of improvement including the development and implementation of a formal moderation process, the development of a formal induction and mentoring procedure for all new teaching staff, the revision of the Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities (GPISH), and module learning outcomes which reflect the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ), the development and evaluation of a new GPISH grading criteria, the appointment of an experienced Head for the Quality Assurance and Evaluation Unit and an Academic Skills Co-ordinator.
There are several areas of continuing good practice, including the effective and extensive use of the alumni network including the new online community forum - due to be launched later this year, the role of students in contributing to strategy, GPISH retention rates and the excellent information and support given to students during the admissions process. Commenting on the GPISH formal moderation process the report stated:
“Records of recent moderation demonstrate that this is rigorous, and staff feedback confirms that it is a significant improvement.”
Diane Rainsbury, Head of the Quality Assurance and Evaluation Unit, observed that:
“This is an excellent outcome for the IIS and one that is well-deserved. We have had positive feedback from UCL-IOE regarding our commended judgement and this outcome will prove invaluable with regards to future validation partners. Going forward, the report will also help to shape future enhancement objectives which will involve working closely with students and staff.”
Speaking about the academic standards of the Institute, Dr Laila Halani, Head of the Department of Graduate Studies commented:
"The report is a testimonial to the high standards we uphold at the IIS, particularly in the light of the ever changing Higher Education landscape in the UK. It is also a credit to our student body whose engagement and commitment contribute to the quality of education provided at the IIS. Our current and prospective students can have full confidence that the academic standards of a Master’s level programme at the IIS is equivalent to those associated with the best Universities in Britain.”
In addition, the review panel also interviewed students on their experience of studying with the Institute. The students were commended on their thoughtful participation and intelligent engagement with the monitoring visit themes. Speaking about her experience of being part of the student group that met with the QAA review team, Noreen Sajwani (GPISH 2018) commented:
“Being a part of the QAA team has been a truly enriching experience. It gave me a completely new perspective and insight into the work that goes into embodying the mission, vision, and values of the IIS. It also helped me understand not only how the Institute can help me in my academic endeavours but also what I can do to support and be an active member of the IIS and the UK Higher Education System at large. I truly believe that by understanding what goes into meeting performance quality targets in the British system - especially as an international student - will help me both in my academic and professional career from here onwards."
The final report which is published on the QAA website is available to view here.