FAQ – Audit

How long does an audit procedure take?

  • Depending on the preparations already made by the HEI, an audit procedure can be expected to take from one year to 18 months.

How is the higher education institution’s profile reflected in the audit?

  • The review is performed based on generic standards that define general requirements for quality management systems. The audit examines the suitability of the QMS as an aid in achieving the institution's objectives. In this way, the HEI's profile is taken into account in the audit. Reviewers are selected based on the profile and the special features of the institution.

Who are the reviewers?

  • The reviewers who carry out the audit include senior representatives of HEIs with management experience as well as one student representative. They have proven experience in the management and organisation of a HEI as well as in quality management in the higher education area. The review team usually includes one member who has previously participated in audits as a reviewer. The student representative is nominated from a pool of student reviewers.

How is the students’ point of view taken into account?

  • The students' point of view is taken into account in a number of ways. Firstly, the review team includes a student representative. Secondly, talks are held with student representatives as part of the site visits. AQ Austria recommends that students be included in every stage of the audit, in particular in the preparation of the self evaluation report.

What is expected of the institution’s analytical self-report?

  • The quality of a self-report is reflected in a self-critical presentation not only of the strengths of the institution's internal QMS but also of the challenges facing the system. AQ Austria correspondingly recommends an analysis of the institution's strengths and weaknesses as part of the report.

In which languages can the procedures be conducted?

  • Procedures may take place in German or English. AQ Austria and the HEI decide upon the language in the agreement concluded at the beginning of the procedure.

Which part of the procedure is most time-consuming for the higher education institution?

  • Preparing the self evaluation report is the major effort required from the institution. It is recommended for every staff member to be involved in this process as a way of achieving a very broad perspective. Institutions generally feel that the effort required yields returns in the form of an enhanced internal quality culture.

With whom do the reviewers speak during the site visits?

  • The reviewers speak with representatives of all areas within the institution: the university administration, academic teaching and research staff, students, university bodies, administrative staff and graduates. If required, talks can be held with further groups upon mutual agreement.

How is the assessment done?

  • The assessment takes place based on a three-level scale: a standard is rated "fully compliant", "partly compliant" or "not compliant". If a standard is rated "partly compliant", deficiencies have been detected, which means that conditions are imposed. If even one standard is rated "not compliant", certification cannot be granted.

Are all standards equally weighted?

  • Yes.

What does the published report on the outcome include?

  • AQ Austria publishes a report on the outcome including the review report, the HEI’s comment on the report as well as the decision taken by the Board, the grounds for the decision, the certification period and, if necessary, any conditions. 

What follow-up activities does AQ Austria offer?

  • AQ Austria offers HEIs follow-up workshops as an opportunity to discuss the reviewers' assessment and recommendations and supports the institutions in drawing up and implementing action plans.


How is an agreement reached between AQ Austria and a HEI?

  • A HEI interested in having AQ Austria conduct an audit procedure, contacts the agency, which introduces the aspects of an audit regarding contents and organisation. If AQ Austria conducts the audit procedure at the HEI, both partners conclude a private-law agreement.