Contributing to the Development of the EHEA

Knowledge Base of External QA Systems

For several years, EQAR has maintained a knowledge base of external quality assurance systems and national legal frameworks across the EHEA. During 2018, EQAR enhanced the information profile provided for each EHEA country and updated the information based on the EHEA implementation report and own desk research.

In relation to DEQAR, the country profiles have gained further relevance, as they are displayed on each higher education institution page next to the list of quality assurance report. The information helps users to understand those reports and their status in the national higher education system.

For each EHEA country, the knowledge base contains information on:

  • the external quality assurance requirements, broken down by different types of HEIs where applicable;
  • the recognition of external quality assurance by other EQAR-registered agencies;
  • the availability of the European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes;
  • the EQAR-registered quality assurance agencies operating in the country;
  • links to their quality assurance reports in DEQAR.

Knowledge base

Developments in Cross-Border QA

2018 saw the highest number of cross-border reviews compared to previous years, an increase of 37% from 2017 and of 10% from 2016 (see bar chart below). While 3 out of 4 EQAR-registered QA agencies have carried out cross-border QA activities at least once since 2014, half of them have been doing so on a regular (yearly) basis (see stack chart below). 2018 has also been the year where most of the agencies have been active across borders, with at least one external QA activity carried out abroad.

The spread of cross border activity of EQAR-registered agencies covered 57 higher education systems last year, most of which were carried out within the EHEA (within 29 countries, representing 64% of the total number of cross-border QA reviews carried out).

The countries that registered the highest numbers of cross-border external QA reviews (in absolute terms, 10 reviews or more) in 2018 were Kazakhstan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tunisia, Switzerland, Russia, Indonesia and  Romania. Within EHEA most of such reviews are carried out in countries that recognise the activity of EQAR-registered agencies (i.e. Romania, Kazakhstan, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Germany).

The quality assurance agencies with the highest number of insternational cross-border activities are the four international/European agencies registered on EQAR: EAPAA, EAEVE, IEP and MusiQuE. All of their reviews are by nature “across borders”. From among the other (national, bi-national or regional) agencies with an intense activity across borders are: BAC, CTI, ASIIN, fibaa, evalag and AHPGS. Over 20% of these agencies external QA activities are carried out in a different country than the one they are based in (see chart below).

In terms of the volume of cross-border QA at programme level, the activities increased by 52% between 2017 and 2018, while at institutional level small decrease was registered (-6%).

Cross-border QA activities (2014-2018)

Number of EQAR-registered agencies carrying out CBQA
Trends in external and cross border external QA by year
External QA activities cross-border and home, by agency

Use of the European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes

The map below and the EQAR website provide an overview of the EHEA countries in which the European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes is available to higher education institutions, either through specific legislation or by virtue of higher education institutions themselves being responsible for the quality assurance of their programmes.

In 2018, the European Approach newly became available to higher education institutions in Malta, Moldova and Poland.

In order to make the existing examples where the European Approach was used better known and to allow others to draw from these experiences, EQAR created an additional page on its website with a list of example cases.

EQAR is an associate partner of an Erasmus+-funded project titled “Facilitating implementation of the European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes – ImpEA”, involving ENQA, ECA, several registered QA agencies and several higher education institutions as partners. Following the production of a background report, the QA agencies involved are currently implementing accreditation/evaluation procedures based on the European Approach. The project results include a practical guide, but most importantly ImpEA is expected to bring further good practice use cases that may serve as role models.

In October 2018, EQAR contributed substantially to a “Cluster Meeting” of Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programmes, organised by the European Commission and focusing on the European Approach. The meeting was an opportunity to provide information on the European Approach and raise higher education institutions’ interest. The conclusions of the meeting highlighted the need to recognise the European Approach in all legal frameworks and the importance of incentivising its application.

EQUIP project and policy recommendations - ESG 2015

EQAR was a partner in a project on Enhancing Quality through Innovative Policy & Practice, coordinated by EURASHE and involving most of the organisations that authored the ESG.

The EQUIP project concluded with a breakfast briefing event for Brussels-based policy makers in higher education. The EQUIP policy recommendations highlighted the importance of designing quality assurance instruments carefully to fit their purposes and of ensuring that national legal frameworks create the necessary conditions for higher education institutions and quality assurance agencies to implement the ESG in practice.

EHEA Ministerial Conference and Celebration

The EHEA Ministerial Conference took place on 24/25 May 2018 in Paris. In its Message to the Ministerial Conference, EQAR highlighted its contribution to building the EHEA and stressed the importance of all EHEA governments actively engaging in policy dialogue at the European level.

The Opening Ceremony and Celebration Session on the eve of the Ministerial Conference marked the 20th anniversary of the Sorbonne Declaration as well as the 30th anniversary of the Magna Charta Universitatum and the 10th anniversary of EQAR. EQAR President Karl Dittrich was part of a panel to mark these anniversaries.

In their Paris Communiqué, EHEA ministers welcomed and committed to promote the development of DEQAR.

Karl Dittrich - Opening Ceremony and Celebration Session on the eve of the Ministerial Conference in Paris

Contribution to the EHEA Working Groups

EQAR is part of the BFUG Monitoring Working Group (WG1) as well as the Thematic Peer Group on Quality Assurance (TPG C). In addition, EQAR was asked to punctually support the work of the TPG B on Recognition.

EQAR is contributing to the preparation of the 2020 EHEA Implementation Report and in particular its chapter on quality assurance.

As part of the TPG on QA, EQAR has contributed actively to its first meeting and the preparation of some project proposals for financial support under the Erasmus+ programme. EQAR will continue to support actively the work of the group and its members.