ISO Standards and their Guarantee for Higher Education Institutions

One of the priorities of companies today is to increase the degree of trust of their public. To this end, it is becoming more and more common for them to have the recognition of complying with ISO certifications (i.e. ISO standards and their guarantee for higher education Institutions). ISO norms are a set of internationally recognized requirements and standards whose objective is to guarantee homogeneity levels in terms of management, service provision and product development in an organization.

ISO (International Standardization Organization) is the entity that creates the standards and their guides, which specify the requirements that a company must meet to comply with them. Obtaining ISO certification for any of the standards guarantees that the standards are followed to ensure the quality, safety and efficiency of the services or products offered by a company or professional. Currently, the ISO organization has published 24.880 international standards that can be applied to different areas and processes. For example, there are standards for quality management, environmental management, information security management, risk management, etc.


On the other hand, the quality of education is a constant concern worldwide. It is becoming increasingly common for prospective students to take an interest in certain aspects of the institution and its academic offerings before enrolling in an educational activity. For example, before enrolling students check if the resources are available to them, the selection of teaching staff, the equipment, and infrastructure, the adaptation of teaching resources, administrative management, and the correct application of the corresponding regulations.

As for higher education institutions, due to an increasingly competitive global environment, they need to keep up with society’s demands and commitments. To this end, they must adopt measures that evaluate and provide certainty to students regarding the quality of the services they offer. It is of vital importance to guarantee institutional quality standards in the processes and activities that ensure an excellent educational environment. ISO certifications are a great tool to obtain the recognition they seek.

As mentioned above, there are numerous ISO standards applied to any field. Three ISO standards specific to the field of education are highlighted below.

 ISO 21001: Management Systems for Educational Organizations

This standard is aimed at formal educational institutions (such as primary schools, colleges, and universities) with scope to all institutional management activities for the provision of educational services at all levels and in any of its modalities. It was the first education-focused standard published by ISO in 2018. It focuses on three fundamental elements for its implementation: accountability of the organization with the achievement of objectives, management that ensures an educational service that meets quality standards, and leadership that reinforces the commitment to quality and continuous improvement of the educational organization.

ISO 29993: Learning Services Outside Formal Education

This standard was published in 2020 and applies to organizations or professional activities other than formal education systems that offer learning and professional development services. It includes all types of lifelong learning such as vocational training or in-company training. The main features of this standard are the definition of learning objectives, evaluation of services, and involvement with learner interaction. By implementing this standard, organizations can ensure customer satisfaction, improve their competitiveness and optimize their internal processes.

ISO 29994: Education and Learning Services – Requirements for Distance Learning

This international standard was published in 2021 and establishes requirements for distance learning services not specified in ISO 29993. It applies to any provider of distance education or e-learning services, regardless of the size of the institution. It makes it possible to increase the credibility of the services offered in this modality and to demonstrate the reliability and quality of the educational services provided.


Should Higher Education Institutions Obtain This Recognition?

Firstly, the center for providing education services manages to differentiate itself in an environment in which competition is increasing, especially in a society that values the importance of certifications that endorses and demonstrates the quality of the training provided. Although it is completely voluntary for the center to undergo this type of process, once the certification is obtained, it will probably have a positive influence on its development by allowing it to evolve as an entity and formally demonstrate its intention to improve.

On the other hand, from a student’s point of view, it can be a difficult task to choose an institution to train at. Educational centers will cite information such as specific figures or comments from students and teachers trying to persuade you to choose one option over another.

How can you choose?  Undoubtedly, the best option is to select an internationally comparable reference such as the ISO standards. In addition to, when it comes to presenting qualifications obtained in the recruitment processes, a qualification in which an external company certifies the quality and knowledge obtained will generate more confidence in the employer. Due to digital transformation and globalization, it is common to find in resumes references to courses taken in institutions in different geographical areas, which may not provide any information online. In this context, the issue of having international recognition or an organization that attests to the validity of the studies undertaken becomes even more important.

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What are ISO standards and what do they guarantee for Higher Education Institutions?