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Terms and Conditions for the Database of External Quality Assurance Results (DEQAR)

(as of 21 May 2018)

1. Definitions

  • EHEA
    European Higher Education Area
  • ESG
    Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the EHEA
  • EQAR
    (European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education) is the official register of quality assurance agencies operating in substantial compliance with the ESG.
  • ETER
  • OrgReg
  • are facilities developed with European Union (EU) support, providing information recognised higher education institutions in the EU as well as candidate countries.
  • DEQAR (Database of External Quality Assurance Results)
    refers to the information system created by EQAR or to the publicly accessible frontend (on the EQAR website), depending on the context.
  • Participating Agency
    a quality assurance agency registered on EQAR that has decided to enter information into DEQAR; all agencies registered on EQAR have the right to add information to DEQAR, whereas changes to an agency's registration status may lead to full or partial deletion of associated information.
  • QA
    quality assurance
  • QA Result
    the results or findings from any type of external quality assurance (e.g. audit, evaluation, review or accreditation) of a higher education institution, study programme or other organisational unit, carried out by a Participating Agency
  • Original Documents
    the original report(s), decision(s) and any other document(s) constituting the QA Result, as published by the Participating Agency
  • Metadata
    the information identifying the higher education institution(s) to which a QA Result relates and describing the general characteristics of the QA Result, including information on Participating Agencies and the external quality assurance systems of EHEA countries.
  • Submission API
    a technical interface that allows Participating Agencies to manage information in DEQAR
  • User
    any individual or organisation using DEQAR for any purpose
  • Web API
    a technical interface allowing Users to embed search and browse of the information in DEQAR into own applications

2. Scope

DEQAR is a database of external QA Results:

  • produced by Participating Agencies during the period of time they are/were validly registered1;

  • within the scope of the ESG; that is, results from external QA procedures related to teaching and learning in higher education, including the learning environment and relevant links to research and innovation2.

DEQAR consists of Metadata (allowing to identify higher education institutions, describing and contextualising QA Results) as well as Original Documents (full reports and decisions).

The information on QA Results falls within the publication requirement of ESG standard 2.6; it is therefore expected to be published by Participating Agencies regardless of their participation in DEQAR.

Participating Agencies should add to DEQAR all QA Results within the scope of the ESG.

EQAR will publish a regularly updated list of Participating Agencies at [website URL].

1 Reports already expired can be uploaded but might only show up in archive mode.

2 Defined in detail in the Policy on the Use and Interpretation of the ESG.

3. Meaning of information

3.1 Register of quality assurance agencies

The registered agencies have undergone an external review by independent experts. Based on a thorough analysis of the external review report and further documents as applicable, the EQAR Register Committee satisfied itself that the registered agency complies substantially with the ESG.

Application for inclusion on the register is voluntary. The fact that an agency is not included on the register shall therefore not constitute any statement concerning the quality of its work, its credibility or legitimacy.

3.2 QA Results

If a QA Result appears in DEQAR it signifies that the external QA procedure was carried out by an agency that demonstrably complies with the ESG.

Information on QA Results is linked to the higher education institution(s) to which the external QA procedures are related. A higher education institution is publicly listed in DEQAR if there is at least one QA Result for that institution or any of its study programmes by a Participating Agency.

DEQAR provides a standard Metadata profile describing QA Results by the following categories:

  • Status: “Part of the obligatory EQA system” are QA Results where the procedures carry an official status by law or statute of the higher education system(s) to which the higher education institution(s) belong(s), e.g. the results of an obligatory accreditation or evaluation, performed by an agency authorised for such a procedure in the system(s) concerned. Other QA Results (e.g. an accreditation sought in addition to the required national accreditation), are marked as “voluntary”.

  • Decision:

    • “Positive” means that the QA Result includes a conclusion that the applicable standards (as set by the Participating Agency in line with the ESG) have been met, e.g. accreditation was granted or a positive audit certificate awarded.

    • “Positive with conditions or restrictions” means that the agency imposed certain conditions that the institution/programme concerned has to fulfil before if can be considered as meeting the applicable standards, or that any other formal restrictions or qualifications are attached to the conclusion.

    • “Negative” means that the applicable standards were not met, e.g. accreditation was denied.

    • “Not applicable” means that the QA Result does not include formal decision or conclusion as to the fulfilment of standards.

  • Validity: describes the date of the QA Result (e.g. date when the decision was taken, report finalised or published) and how long it is considered valid (e.g. duration of accreditation, validity of the audit certificate); both dates are specified by the agency; QA Results without a defined validity are displayed as valid for a period of 6 years.

Participating Agencies should map the characteristics of their QA Results to that profile with a “best fit” approach. As the ESG allow considerable variation in actual QA systems and practices, this inevitably requires simplification and might lead to a loss of detail or precision in some cases. The Original Documents represent the only formally valid representation of the QA Result.

4. Use and availability

DEQAR has been created for the public good and the information contained in it is public by nature (see 2. Scope above). The information is freely accessible for anybody free of charge.

The Metadata may be used freely under the Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and Licence (PDDL). In doing so, Users should respect the Open Data Commons Community Norms.

The Original Documents are the property of the respective Participating Agency and made available subject to the terms stipulated either in the document itself, on the Participating Agency’s website or on the list of Participating Agencies. Should no other terms be specified, Original Documents are made available under the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 (CC-BY-SA-4.0) license.

EQAR makes the information available in the following ways:

  • Web interface: a browsable list and search interface to discover higher education institutions and consult associated QA results

  • Download: a file containing Metadata of all QA Results in DEQAR with links to the Original Documents

  • Through the Web API

The Web API is provided free of charge and maintained by EQAR at its own expenses. To ensure that the information is not used in a way that jeopardises the objectives of DEQAR and to avoid excessive resource consumption, EQAR may limit access to the Web API to registered Users. In that case, EQAR will grant access to any individual or organisation on request, unless EQAR has reason to believe that the information might be abused, misrepresented or used in violation of these Terms and Conditions. In order to allow the public to identify legitimate use, EQAR will publish a list of registered Users with access to the Web API.

The software used to operate DEQAR is available under the GNU General Public License (GPL). All documentation of DEQAR is available under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 (CC-BY-SA-4.0) license.

5. Responsibility

DEQAR includes information from various sources in aggregated form.

EQAR has responsibility for the basic information on higher education institutions, Participating Agencies and EHEA countries. EQAR compiles that information based on the ETER/OrgReg, information provided by national authorities and Participating Agencies.

Participating Agencies manage and have responsibility for the information on their own QA Results; DEQAR indicates the responsible agency for each QA Result. Participating Agencies shall ensure that:

  • the procedures leading to QA Results published in DEQAR are carried out in compliance with the ESG;

  • all higher education institutions for which the agency submits QA Results are legally established and in good standing with the competent authority/-ies of the higher education system in which they are established; and

  • they hold valid proxies when managing information on behalf of other agencies.

6. Changes of incorrect information

Participating agencies, higher education institutions themselves or Users may alert EQAR about errors or mistakes in the information on higher education institutions. If necessary, EQAR will seek appropriate confirmation before changing.

EQAR will update information annually from ETER/OrgReg and consider any information from ETER and OrgReg authoritative, unless it has good reasons not to.

Higher education institutions or Users should alert the Responsible agency about factual errors or mistakes in the information on QA result. As a rule, EQAR will not change by itself information on the QA result.

7. Concerns

Information in DEQAR might give raise to concerns about the work of a Participating Agency (e.g. non-compliance with the ESG). As a rule and in line with the EQAR Complaints Policy, such concerns should first be taken up with the agency concerned.

Where concerns are not satisfactorily addressed in direct contact with the participating agency, users may bring the concerns to EQAR’s attention in line with its Complaints Policy.

Should there be prima facie evidence that some QA results were not produced in compliance with the ESG, EQAR may temporarily suppress them from DEQAR, pending ultimate settlement of the complaint.

Should a complaint include or give raise to concerns regarding the legitimacy of a higher education institution, EQAR may temporarily suppress the institution record (and, consequently, all associated QA results), pending settlement of the issue. In case of doubt, EQAR will follow the advice of the responsible governmental authority of the territory where the institution is operating.

8. Disclaimer

EQAR and the participating agencies strive to ensure that all information is accurate and up-to-date to the best of their knowledge. They provide DEQAR “as is” and without any warranty of any kind, either express or implied, whether of title, of accuracy or completeness, of the absence of errors, of fitness for purpose, or otherwise.

In particular, EQAR offers no warranty for the quality, suitability or fitness of the respective institution/programme for a specific purpose. Users are invited to draw such conclusions themselves based on the Original documents, together with other information as appropriate.

Subject to any liability that may not be excluded or limited by law, EQAR or the Participating Agencies are not liable for, and expressly exclude, all liability for loss or damage however and whenever caused to anyone by any use under this Terms and Conditions, whether by the User or by anyone else, and whether caused by any fault on the part of EQAR or the Participating Agencies or not. This exclusion of liability includes, but is not limited to, any special, incidental, consequential, punitive, or exemplary damages. This exclusion applies even if the EQAR or the Participating Agencies have been advised of the possibility of such damages.

If liability may not be excluded by law, it is limited to actual and direct financial loss to the extent it is caused by proven negligence on the part of EQAR or the Participating Agencies.

9. Changes

EQAR shall announce changes to these Terms and Conditions at least one month before entering into force.

Participating agencies shall be explicitly informed and have the right to withdraw their participation in case of disagreement with the announced changes.

If any provision of this Document is held to be invalid or unenforceable, that must not affect the validity or enforceability of the remainder of the terms of this Document.

This document includes material adapted from the Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and Licence (PDDL).