Activities within the framework of the DEQAR CONNECT project have been and are continuing in full swing, despite pandemic related restrictions. So far, all meetings and activities have been taking place virtually since the start of the project (March 2020).
DEQAR CONNECT focuses on two of the EHEA key commitments, supporting quality assurance and recognition inside the EHEA, and consists of two strands:
1. Expand coverage to EHEA countries currently under-represented in DEQAR
DEQAR experts provide peer support for project partner quality assurance agencies, to help them choose and implement the most efficient system to upload reports, answer questions and overcoming obstacles where necessary. In order to streamline this, the following meetings have been held, steps have been undertaken:
- DEQAR CONNECT Kick-off webinar for QA agencies – May 2020.
- Matching of the DEQAR experts (8) with the agencies, based on the mentors’ field of expertise, agencies’ needs and their internal information system complexity – May 2020.
- Experts (mentors) started offering consultancy to “their” agencies (online), since June 2020.
- Experts themselves have been meeting on a monthly base to discuss each agency’s progress in relation to the project, share advise about supporting mentees in overcoming obstacles and draw common grounds on the questions and dilemmas raised by the agencies, since June 2020.
- Virtual peer support meeting for QA agencies – September 2020
- Site visits were planned to take place until the end of the project. The on-site peer-support visit depends on when the peers can travel and when agencies can receive visitors again, as the Coronavirus situation evolves.
2. Enhance connectivity by exploiting existing synergies and exploring new opportunities to use DEQAR data
The connectivity strand focuses on three initiatives:
- ENIC NARICs – integration of DEQAR API in their workflow
After an ENIC NARIC webinar in May 2020, ENIC-NARICs partners (CIMEA, CNRED, France Éducation international and Nuffic) started working on how to best establish connectivity with DEQAR. Three of them have already tested/piloted the connection and will fully develop it later, while the last one is planning the DEQAR connectivity together with their next (internal) system update. More about ENIC-NARIC integration here.
- Europass – creating a compatibility layer
One of the specific DEQAR CONNECT activities is to create a compatibility layer for Europass and its Digital Credentials Infrastructure (EDCI), so that DEQAR data would feed directly into the Accreditation Database underlying the EDCI. The implementation of this interface has been planned further with the Europass team at the European Commission and the DEQAR developers.
- Higher Education Data Interoperability
A (virtual) Roundtable on Higher Education Data Interoperability was held in September 2020. Following that, EQAR has continued its cooperation with various other European initiatives in the field of HE data in order to work on better connecting existing systems and data sets. As a first concrete problem domain it was agreed to tackle the question of higher education institution identifiers. Based on a number of agreed use cases, a technical group has been working on the requirements for an enhanced approach to identifying higher education institutions in Europe. These are currently under discussion and concrete proposals will be made on that basis.
In addition, and transversal to both strands, the objectives of the DEQAR CONNECT project are:
- To support the activities of the BFUG Thematic Peer Groups (TPG) on QA and on Recognition, or of their succeeding bodies in the post-2020 BFUG working structure.
- To enhance DEQAR’s visibility and relevance among all stakeholders.