Contributing to the Development of the EHEA

Contribution to the EHEA Work Plan and projects

EQAR supports the implementation of the EHEA reforms as a member of the Bologna Follow-up Group and its working structures. In 2020, EQAR continued to contribute to the conversation on matters related to quality assurance and the recognition of QA activities in the meetings of the BFUG Monitoring Working Group (WG1), the Thematic Peer Group on Quality Assurance (TPG C) and the Thematic Peer Group on Recognition (TPG B).

EQAR continued its work in monitoring the implementation of quality assurance systems in line with the ESG, as part of its knowledge base on different regional/national legal frameworks for QA. At the end of 2020, EQAR had contacted all EHEA governments as part of its self-evaluation survey and updated its country information on legal frameworks where necessary.

To make external quality assurance results accessible and understandable for everyone and support EHEA’s ambitious goals for the automatic recognition, EQAR is exploring the direct use of DEQAR data in recognition workflows with a number of ENIC-NARICs.

In addition, EQAR contributed to a number of projects funded under the Erasmus+ action to support the EHEA reforms, in most cases as an associate partner. EQAR fed its expertise into the national peer counseling activities (for Albania, Czech Republic, Moldova and Slovakia, Malta and Montenegro to follow in 2021) as part of the SEQA-ESG project coordinated by ENQA, in the Matchmaking Committee of the TPG C Staff Mobility project, in the ESU Bologna With Stakeholders Eyes (BWSE FORward) project, in the Microbol project (steering group and working group on QA), in the ImpEA project (see under European Approach below) and as part of the peer learning activities of the TPG LRC umbrella project.

In the wake of the Rome ministerial meeting, EQAR prepared a statement to the conference, calling upon ministers to fully implement the agreed European quality assurance framework and to dismantle remaining obstacles in cross-border recognition.

Openness to cross-border external QA with an EQAR-registered agency

In 2020 cross border external QA with an EQAR-registered agency was available to higher education institutions in 19 countries (map: dark blue), while recognising a procedure with an EQAR-registered agencies was possible under certain conditions in 12 other countries (map: medium dark blue).

The most recent development in cross-border external QA was reported in Greece, following the adoption of a new law on quality assurance (Law 4653/2020 on the Hellenic Authority for Higher Education). The law includes a provision that would allow for the evaluation of study programmes as well as the evaluation of the internal quality assurance system of an institution by a foreign quality assurance agency, which is internationally recognised (EQAR-registered).

The past year only saw a few developments in legal framework and regulations relating to quality assurance systems. This may be largely due to the pandemic, which meant that the development of legal provisions to allow higher education institutions to request accreditation, evaluation or audit from a suitable EQAR-registered agency, might not have been a priority.

The cross-border QA activity also showed a drop in numbers in 2020, as shown in the DEQAR infographics of agencies’ activity cross-border.

EHEA countries where higher education institutions may use a suitable EQAR-registered agency for their external QA (December 2020)

Use of the European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes

In 2020, the European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes (EA) was available to higher education institutions in 16 countries (map: dark blue). Since last year, some countries (Georgia, Lithuania) made changes to their legal framework allowing the use of the EA.

In 14 EHEA countries the European Approach was only available to some higher education institutions or subject to specific, additional conditions (map: light blue). The map below gives an overview of the situation. The information on each country provides further details, such as an explanation of a specific legislation or the fact that higher education institutions themselves are responsible for the quality assurance of their programmes.

EQAR has maintained a specific page on its website with a list of example cases where the European Approach was used, to allow others to draw from these experiences. All European Approach reports are also available through the general DEQAR search interface (here).

The results would not include any countries and institutions that used the European Approach in their internal QA arrangements, e.g. in cases where no external programme accreditation/review is required. As there is no reporting on that, it cannot be established to what extent that happened.

EQAR was an associate partner in the ImpEA project, which rolled out the European Approach in a number of cases. As part of ImpEA, an online toolkit and further supporting materials were developed. EQAR contributed to the closing event of ImpEA in December 2020.

Availability of the European Approach for QA of Joint Programmes (December 2020)