The systematic assessment and recording of the work of each Academic Unit is the first step in the process for quality assurance. By using the collated data the content of the Annual Internal Report is produced. This Report is drafted with the responsibility of each Academic Unit during each academic year. At Institutional level, the Internal Report is drafted every two years, according to the information included in the Annual Internal Reports of each Academic Unit.
The Annual Internal Reports enable the Academic Unit to check and ascertain that it operates in a way that responds to the purposes and goals that the unit itself has set, through its foundation and through the later decisions of its competent collective organs. The purpose of the procedure that leads to the preparation of the Annual Internal Reports is the regular and systematic monitoring of all the aspects of the complex work that the Academic Unit performs. With the documentation of this data in the Annual Internal Report, the Academic Unit has access to stable reference points with which it can monitor and independently redefine the quality of its operations and its general progress towards the goals that it has itself set.
In particular, the Annual Internal Reports give the Unit, inter alia, the opportunity to confirm the pace and efficacy of its operations and to identify in good time those areas where it needs to develop additional or different actions for improvement. At the same time, however, through the successive Annual Internal Reports, the Unit independently controls its progress and can, during the periodic external evaluation procedure, provide a critique and evaluation of the work being done, revise it or even refocus it.
Collection of documentary data
The Academic Unit has the responsibility for the documentation data collection with the assistance and participation of all faculty members and students and for all its levels of operation. The preparation of the Annual Internal Report requires the full and systematic collection of accurate data concerning the operation of the Academic Unit in accordance with the quality assurance criteria and indicators. The main objective of the data collection that will be reflected in the Annual Internal Report is to assist and facilitate both the daily operation of the Academic Unit and decision-making at all levels of its operation.
- According to the periodic nature of the data
- With the balanced participation of all the members of the Academic Unit (teaching and research staff, educational, administrative staff, students), and
- With procedures that are commonly accepted among the members of the Academic Unit.
Correspondingly, the Annual Internal Report may be prepared either in stages, while the data is being collected, or at the end of the process, in a way defined by the Academic Unit itself and by combining and balancing the views of all its members. Certainly, the approach to be followed in the collection of data is the exclusive responsibility of the Unit itself, its members and its competent organs. The main factor in the adoption and definition of this approach and, subsequently, for the preparation of the Annual Internal Reports must be the documentation of progress and success, both in the short-term and in the long-term, of the mission and goals of the Academic Unit.
Preparation of the Annual Internal Report
The key points of the Annual Internal Report concern the data that document the operations of the Unit and provide an aggregated/concise presentation of the data as a whole. The Report consists is a centralised/summarised presentation of documentary data. The quantitative, qualitative and other data that are included in the Annual Internal Report are primarily indicative of the measure of quality assurance that the Academic Unit has itself determined, given developments both in its scholarly field and academic institutions in general. Between successive Annual Internal Reports, the Unit has the opportunity and obligation to strengthen its achievements qualitatively and quantitatively, but also to address any outstanding issues or problems identified during the analysis of the data. Changes in the data and indicators that are documented in the successive annual reports enable the Unit to monitor the progress and success of its initiatives. As may be expected, the preparation of the Annual Internal Report is significantly facilitated by the systematic, detailed and, especially, reliable collection of the various data, which provide its essential documentation. As for the quality of the data, this obviously depends upon the efficiency and transparency with which the data collection and documentation procedures are adopted and applied. Just as with the collection of data, the adoption during the preparation of the report of, inter alia, the quality assurance standards, criteria and indicators provided by the HQA will significantly facilitate the completion of the second phase of the procedure by the Academic Unit, namely the Internal Evaluation. Moreover, standardisation of the criteria will permit, at a second stage, the transfer of the data to the level of the Institution, and finally to a national level. Obviously, each Unit can and must adapt and supplement the data that it collects and compiles with any additional criteria or indicators that it believes document and highlight particular aspects of its specific character. It is not obligatory for the Annual Internal Report to comply with the HQA standards but it is desirable, so that the data that is collected for the Annual Internal Reports can be used without further processing in order to complete the standardised Internal and External Evaluation Reports. To assist the Units, the HQA has published guidelines for the preparation of the Annual Internal Reports and is, of course, at the disposal of stakeholders in order to help if needed.