The Irish Higher Education Quality Network originated in a discussion amongst higher education and training stakeholders at a National Conference on the Bologna Process, held under the aegis of the Department of Education and Science on 23 July 2003. During the conference, it was generally agreed that it would be helpful if the main organisations with a role or significant interest in quality assurance in higher education and training in Ireland were to meet to discuss quality in a national context, with a view to working towards the development of a common national position on key quality assurance issues and to inform the debate on those same issues at a European level.

A meeting was held on 9 October 2003, at which it was agreed that it would be desirable for the group to become a formal network with the designation Irish Higher Education Quality Network (IHEQN).