In the course of revising its internal quality management system, the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, in cooperation with the Austrian Quality Assurance Agency, tested an external peer review in one of its units. In order to take account of initial faculty and student scepticism towards the project, which was primarily based on its potential for curtailing internal diversity, the project design discarded some of the general rules for peer reviews and replaced them with its own methodology for an institutionally driven external review. This paper outlines the model developed in the pilot project, analyses the major lessons learned and provides an outlook on how the Vienna Academy plans to utilise periodic peer reviews in its internal quality management system. Beyond the individual institutional context this contribution also proposes a debate on the general relevance of the suggested methodology for any type of higher education institution.
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