Progress in Quality Assurance in the EHEA

The European Commission published its triennial Report on Progress in Quality Assurance in Higher Education, following up on the European Parliament and Council’s recommendation on quality assurance in higher education of 2006.

EQAR is pleased that the Commission will work with EU Member States to “encourage more quality assurance agencies to apply for EQAR registration; and to allow foreign EQAR-registered agencies to operate in their HE systems”, consistently with the corresponding commitment made by Ministers of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) in their Bucharest Communiqué (2012). Opening higher education institutions the possibility to choose a quality assurance agency that best suits their mission and profile may help institutions to have an external evaluation, audit or accreditation that best benefits its own internal quality assurance activities.

As the report sets out, many countries in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) yet have to take steps to implement the Bucharest Communiqué commitment. Through its current project “Recognising International Quality Assurance Activity” (2013/14), co-funded by the EU Lifelong Learning Programme, EQAR aims to contribute to advancing policy developments in that respect.

The project analyses both the existing national frameworks for enabling higher education institutions to work with foreign EQAR-registered quality assurance agencies, as well as experiences, challenges and opportunities observed by quality assurance agencies and higher education institutions in accreditation, evaluation and audit across borders.

The Report further calls to “minimise bureaucracy” in external quality assurance of joint programmes, so as to facilitate their development and growth. While ministers have already committed to “recognise quality assurance decisions of EQAR-registered agencies on joint and double degree programmes” (Bucharest Communiqué), this is not a reality yet in all EHEA countries. EQAR has been participating in discussions on a set of European principles for external quality assurance of joint programmes, as a way to promote the principle of a single review adopted in the Bucharest Communiqué.

EQAR has further been actively participating in the revision of the European Standards and Guidelines for Higher Education (ESG). By enhancing the clarity and applicability of the ESG, including clear articulation with other relevant Bologna Process tools such as qualifications frameworks, the revised ESG is expected to enhance the international trust in a coherent European framework for QA and, thus, to contribute to the recognition of quality assurance agencies’ results and decisions across the EHEA.

Further information:
Press Release European Commission