The legal framework for the assessment of higher education in Portugal includes the “requirement that higher education institutions put in place their own quality assurance systems, which may be certified” (Decree Law No. 369/2007). This legal purpose is in line with and embodies the fundamental principle underlying the quality assurance systems in the European Higher Education Area, that quality and quality assurance are primarily the responsibility of the higher education institutions themselves. This principle was adopted in the first place by European higher education institutions themselves, as expressed in the Graz Declaration (USA, 2003), is also taken up in the Berlin Communiqué and later Communiqués of the Bologna Process, and appears reflected in ENQA’s document on European standards and guidelines for quality assurance (ENQA et al., 2015).
The Internal Quality Assurance System (IQMS) of IPC is based on the A3ES benchmarks, which characterise an internal quality assurance system consolidated and in line with the European standards (ESG 2015) and the applicable legal requirements.
The quality assurance systems may be, at the option of higher education institutions, submitted to a certification process with the A3ES. The model adopted by A3ES for the assessment of the IQMS consists of four phases, namely: – Preparation of a self-assessment report by the institution; – On-site visits by the External Evaluation Committee; – Preparation of an audit report; – Decision making and dissemination of the report.
The Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra submitted the IQMS to the certification process in 2019, with the visit of the External Evaluation Commission taking place in December 2020.