EQAR's Founders: the E4 Group

The European framework for quality assurance was developed and established by the main stakeholder organisations in the field, gathered in the E4 Group:

  • European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA),
  • European Students Union (ESU),
  • European University Association (EUA) and
  • European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE).

The E4 Group organisations launched EQAR in 2008 at the request of European ministers of education in Bergen (2005) and London (2007) and in a move designed to improve the quality of European higher education and to promote greater student mobility. The EQAR is the first legal entity created in the context of the Bologna Process and, in addition to the E4, has a number of signatory countries, BUSINESSEUROPE and Education International as members.

As Founding Members, ENQAESUEUA and EURASHE are members of its Executive Board and of the General Assembly and each nominate two members of the Register Committee.

The European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA)

is a membership association which represents its members at the European level and internationally. ENQA members are quality assurance organisations from the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) that operate in the field of higher education. ENQA affiliates are worldwide bodies that have a demonstrable interest in the quality assurance of higher education.

Its aim is to contribute significantly to the maintenance and enhancement of the quality of European higher education at a high level, and to act as a major driving force for the development of quality assurance across all the Bologna signatory countries. ENQA fulfills its mission by adhering to the principles of respect for the diversity of European higher education and for a diversity of quality assurance and enhancement approaches; the primary responsibility of HEIs for quality; and the independence of quality assurance agencies within national HE systems.

ENQA website

The European Students' Union (ESU)

is an umbrella organisation of 45 National Unions of Students from 39 countries.

ESU was formerly known as ESIB – The National Unions of Students in Europe.

The aim of ESU is to represent and promote the educational, social, economic and cultural interests of students at the European level towards all relevant bodies. For ESU it is key that change-leading quality assurance is implemented with a holistic approach according to the needs of the students. It should lead not only to ensure the delivery higher education, in whatever form of delivery, according to agreed standards but also to enhance higher education provision within the continuous improvement cycle. It is vital that all higher education stakeholders enjoy ownership over quality assurance, and thus there is a stakeholders’ close cooperation.

ESU website

The European University Association (EUA)

has over 800 members across 48 countries, making it the largest and most comprehensive organisation representing universities and national university associations in Europe.

As the voice of Europe’s universities, EUA supports and takes forward the interests of individual institutions and the higher education systems as a whole. With respect to quality assurance, EUA seeks to ensure that the views of the university sector are taken into account in European and national level policy discussions on internal and external quality assurance while it also supports its members in developing internal quality systems aiming to promote institutional “quality cultures”.

EUA website

The European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE)

represents a broad and diversified range of higher education institutions that offer professionally oriented programmes and are engaged in applied and profession-related research within the Bologna cycles.

EURASHE affiliation has over 1100 higher education institutions in 40 countries, mostly within the EHEA. Full members are national associations and individual institutions in the EHEA. Associate members are organisations outside the EHEA, as well as professional associations and stakeholder organisations active in the field of higher education. EURASHE endeavours to engage the sector in ongoing discussions and reforms in the field of quality assurance and support the development of quality assurance and quality enhancement in the institutions. To this end EURASHE formulates policy positions on behalf of professional higher education, which the Association represents in all fora on quality assurance.

EURASHE website