From EQAR’s point of view, 2018 has been a successful year: it was eventful, sometimes challenging, but always positive and constructive. We were happy to welcome Italy as new governmental member, saw the number of registered agencies grow, had a successful Members’ Dialogue and were extremely proud on the progress DEQAR made.

Where political Europe seems to struggle to find a new, common future, the higher education community is steadfast moving forward: mobility of staff and students is a highly accepted part of daily life in higher education, internationalisation is seen as contributing to the quality of education, and all over the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) universities are forming alliances and strengthening their cooperation. Education – and certainly higher education – makes thus a huge contribution to intercultural and multicultural understanding and respect, and even forms a fundament for the development of a European culture.

But with no doubt, a lot of work still lies ahead of us. EQAR welcomes that ministers decided in Paris to put extra efforts in implementing three key commitments that underpin the EHEA. Naturally, EQAR is happy to contribute to the third key commitment, implementing robust internal and external quality assurance systems in line with the ESG. Peer learning seems to be a fruitful and attractive way to bring countries together, which is a very hopeful sign for other challenges lying before us. Implementing these key commitments will contribute to the necessary trust between countries, higher education institutions and quality assurance agencies to the benefit of quality and mobility.

During the spring of 2018 EQAR launched a new information tool, DEQAR (Database of External Quality Assurance Results). DEQAR developed according to plan and has received quite some attention already. By the end of 2019 we are confident to reach the goal of 20.000 quality assurance reports on institutions or study programmes.

Higher education is a dynamic sector. Countries and agencies have to adapt to new challenges, new ways of teaching and learning, and new ways of quality assurance. It is thus important to keep the information on quality assurance systems up-to-date. This is why EQAR also invests a lot of attention into the database of quality assurance regulations and legal frameworks in all EHEA countries, and to monitoring developments through substantive change reports by the registered agencies.

Our main task is to keep the Register – a modest, but vital task. Based on this task and the objectives set for the Register, EQAR will continue to share the information and expertise that it has at its disposal with all partners in higher education, and draw attention to the use of the Register for cross-border quality assurance, for recognition and for cooperation between countries and institutions. Being an active member of the EHEA means serving the needs of universities, their staff and students through being tough on quality. We look forward with trust and confidence to the next decade of EQAR’s work.

Karl Dittrich (President)