The History of the First Quality Assurance Network in Higher Education (INQAAHE) has become possible due to the generous support of the INQAAHE’s passionate devotees throughout the three decades. 

The earliest expression of formal external quality assurance in higher education originated in North America over a century ago in the form of accreditation and the worldwide pattern for the establishment of external quality assurance commenced at the end of  the 1980s and mid-1990s. This wider expansion of external quality assurance was driven by widespread emergence of new national/public and private external quality assurance agencies across the globe. Predominantly it evolved as a response to massification of  higher education, increase in international mobility, expansion of private providers, among the rest.

As the demand for trustworthy and credible tertiary education increased so did quality assurance provisions, raising a tangible need to bridge diversity of quality assurance providers in an eff ort to respond to the emerging challenges.

Thus, the International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE) was the result of a natural evolution of tertiary education provisions as it entered the era of massification.

Established in 1991, INQAAHE was the first ever international network of QA bodies. It started with just eight members – the QA bodies who happened to be at the international conference on quality assurance organized by the Hong Kong Council for Academic  Accreditation (HKCAA). Since its launch, INQAAHE set out to be a supportive and inclusive organization, representing quality assurance providers, both internal (HEIs) and external (QA bodies). The use of the term ‘network’ was deliberately chosen to stress collegial interaction and to signal an intention to provide mutual support.

Established as an umbrella quality assurance organization for quality assurance providers and accreditors worldwide, INQAAHE provides a global quality enhancement platform for both the internal and external quality assurance in tertiary education. Its primary membership is drawn from QA organizations (EQA agencies and IQA units of higher education institutions), along with regional, subject-specific and other networks.

What all of these bodies have in common are shared interests and values. They speak a common language and embrace the importance of sharing good practice and improving the professionalization of the field of QA in higher education. INQAAHE provides a trusted platform for the exploration of global issues in higher education in general and QA in particular; issues that go beyond national or regional boundaries.

The Network offers its members an opportunity to learn from what others are doing, from both their successes and their failures, and to explore potential solutions for their own contexts, thereby setting a firm foundation for current and future success.


You can learn more about the history of INQAAHE on its 30th anniversary publication.