The external quality audit in Austria encompasses a broad range of HEIs’ activities – alongside the basic duties, they include societal objectives which are supposed to be integrated into the internal quality management system of a higher education institution. This paper looks into the relevance of societal objectives in external quality assurance (QA) practice. The findings are based on an analysis of (1) QA agencies` procedure regulations and (2) audit reports on Austrian HEIs. In the first stage, we identify aspects of societal objectives found in the procedure regulations.
Further analysis shows that equal opportunities and diversity and transfer of knowledge as examples of societal objectives receive little attention and that a genuine QA perspective on these topics is lacking. This is in contrast to the importance given to societal issues in higher education policy discourse and marks new territories to be explored.
This paper was presented at EQAF and reflects the views of the named authors only.