ISO has published specific guidelines for organizations in the education sector wishing to benefit from the implementation of ISO 9001:2000, the latest, improved version of ISO's quality management system standards that have been adopted by more than half a million users in all sectors worldwide.

While ISO 9000 users already include educational establishments of all types, the guidelines will facilitate implementation by the sector of ISO 9001:2000. The guidelines are intended for organizations at all levels, providing all types of education, including: elementary, medium and higher; special and adult education; distance and e-learning.

ISO/IWA 2: Quality management systems - Guidelines for the application of ISO 9001:2000 in education, contains the full text of ISO 9001:2000, clause-by-clause, followed by specific text making the standard easier to understand and implement by the education sector. In addition, IWA 2 includes the full text of ISO 9004:2000, which gives organizations guidelines for achieving further benefits from their quality management systems through the pursuit of continual improvement of performance.

The IWA 2 guidelines do not add to, change or modify the requirements of ISO 9001:2000 and it is not intended that organizations be certified to the document. However, it is intended to be useful to both internal and external parties, including certification bodies when the user organization is seeking ISO 9001:2000 certification, to asses the organization's ability to meet customer, regulatory and its own quality requirements.

IWA 2 is ISO's second International Workshop Agreement. This is one of several ISO alternatives to International Standards for cases where swift development and publication takes priority. Compared to the usual ISO process of developing International Standards through its technical committee structure, IWA's are developed in open workshops and organized by a national standards institute.

IWA 2 was approved at a workshop held in Acapulco, Mexico, in October 2002, and hosted by the General Bureau of Standards (DGN), with the support and cooperation of the Mexican Institute for Standardization and Certification (IMNC) and the National Committee for Standardization on Quality Management Systems (COTENNSISCAL). The Latin-American Institute for Quality (INLAC) facilitated the meeting.

ISO Secretary-General Alan Bryden commented: "IWA 2 is significant on at least three counts. Firstly, it is yet another example that ISO 9001:2000 is applicable to an even broader range of activities than the previous versions, in particular to services in both private and public sectors - which should attract new organizations to reap the benefits of implementing it. Secondly, the IWA formula demonstrates ISO's flexibility in meeting the different requirements of the market. Thirdly, the initiative for these education sector guidelines came from Mexico, which illustrates the dynamism of ISO's worldwide system - active participation can and does come from members all round the world."

ISO/IWA 2: Quality management systems - Guidelines for the application of ISO 9001:2000 in education, costs 158 Swiss francs and is available (in English only) from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list) and from ISO Central Secretariat