Pilot studies

The University of Ghent –  the Centre for Higher Education Governance Ghent (CHEGG), our DEQAR research partner, has been using the database as a basis for two pilot pan-European comparative studies into how higher education institutions respond to the needs of students and society, based on thousands of external quality assurance reports being available in DEQAR.

Read and download the pilot study by UGent (CHEGG)

For the first pilot study, published in April 2019, Jeroen Huisman and Maria Manatos explored the following research questions:

  • “Whether the ESG related to programme’s design, approval and monitoring are present in institutional external quality assurance reports;
  • Whether quality assurance agencies are translating the ESG differently when performing institutional audits of HEIs. Particularly, we aim to understand how quality assurance agencies are translating the ESG, their main concepts and dimensions, and how audit panels are applying the national guidelines for institutional external quality assurance reports and how they are approaching the ESG.”

As methodology, they developed a content analysis of the institutional external quality assurance reports from four different countries available on the DEQAR database, in order to understand how quality assurance agencies translated the ESG for external quality assurance.

This resulted in some interesting observations, such as “The concept of student workload only seldom appears in the reports. Most of the reports tend to merely describe the number of ECTS of the programmes, though some reports go beyond that and discuss whether they reflect a realistic student workload.”

Extracts from the concluding remarks:

  • “Globally, our research responds positively to both our main research questions. On the one hand, the research concludes that the ESG related to programme design, approval and monitoring are present in institutional external quality assurance reports. A quantitative analysis to the frequency of ESG’s concepts and dimensions confirms that the ESG ‘appear’ in the reports, though to different extents across countries.”
  • “On the other hand, quality assurance agencies interpret and translate the main concepts and dimensions from the ESG differently, when performing institutional audits of HEIs. The differences are reflected in the ‘form’ of the reports, in particular, in the length, the focus and the guidelines for the reports. Indeed, quality assurance agencies have different foci and formulate different guidelines for institutional external quality assurance.”
  • “Under an umbrella of ‘standardisation’ and ‘homogenisation’ it is then interesting to notice how the quality assurance agencies translate and interpret the ESG, developing their own national guidelines, and how the audit panels apply such guidelines in the reports.”