Quality Assurance as a whole is about avoiding problems, and stabilising and improving products/services. This is different from Quality Control, which is about finding problems. But there are two different ‘methods’ of Quality Assurance; Internal and External. So what’s the difference?
What is Internal Quality Assurance?
Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) is the process of monitoring the teaching, learning, and assessment activities that a learner at a training provider will undertake. This is why it is called ‘Internal‘ Quality Assurance, as it refers to the Quality Assurance being taken place inside of a training centre, by an internal member of staff. This internal member of staff is called the Internal Quality Assurer, but may just be known as the Quality Manager.
More often than not, IQAs are the Supervisors or Managers within training centres. They’re responsible for the staff, systems, and procedures. Some IQAs will still work as an Assessor and perform both roles; which is all well and good, as long as they aren’t IQAing their own assessment decisions. This would cause a conflict of interest.
What is External Quality Assurance?
External Quality Assurance (EQA) is the process of ensuring that assessment and IQA activities have been conducted in a consistent, safe and fair manner. External Quality Assurance is carried out by the Quality Assurer of the Awarding Body. This must be an Awarding Body that is registered with the Training Provider. So, from an external person. The External Quality Assurance process guarantees that the learners who have been registered with that Awarding Body are currently receiving or had received a quality service. They also check that the assessment and IQA decisions are valid and reliable.
The EQA will monitor the relevant training centre’s processes/practices to ensure they’re meeting the requirements. They also need to support the centre’s staff, and where appropriate, give them advice and guidance on areas for improvement.
To become an External Quality Assurer, you will need the Assessor qualification and an EQA Qualification. EQA qualifications can only be taken with the Awarding Body, such as Pearson Edexcel, as opposed to accredited training providers.
So that’s the difference between the two. In terms of the IQA and EQA’s relationship, it’s important for the IQA to keep in touch with the EQA throughout the year to build a good working relationship.