IEP evaluations are guided by four key questions, which are based on a ‘fitness for (and of) purpose’ approach:
- What is the institution trying to do? How does it define its mission and objectives? Why does it opt for these? Are the choices justified and valid? The first question is meant to draw out information about mid- and long-term goals, and institutional profile and values.
- How is the institution trying to do it? What are the decision-making processes? Are they transparent, consistent and fair? How are authority and responsibilities distributed across the university? Are the processes, structures, responsibilities, and criteria chosen fit for both defining valid objectives and for conceptualising and implementing suitable operations and tools, e.g. curricula or research programmes, etc.?
- How does the institution know it works? What kind of feedback system is in place to ensure that set objectives are met and to identify new challenges, which require setting new objectives? Is there a strong culture of quality and robust quality management processes?
- How does the institution change in order to improve? What is the capacity of the university to change, both in view of shortcomings in reaching set objectives and in setting new objectives? Is it proactive or reactive?
These simple but crucial questions are meant to encourage institutions to provide a critical self-analysis during the self-evaluation phase.