Register Committee meets in Porto

At the Register Committee (RC) meeting in Porto, held on 14 and 15 March and hosted by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Porto, the RC discussed and decided as follows:

The Register Committee approved two (renewal) applications:

The Russian invasion in Ukraine
The Register Committee also discussed consequences of the Russian invasion in Ukraine.

EQAR’s reaction was recently updated in light of the Russian Union of Rectors’ (RUR) statement that explicitly supports the invasion of Ukraine and is diametrically opposed to the values of the EHEA. EQAR recommended that registered agencies do not engage in work with Russian higher education institutions unless they can assure themselves that such cooperation is based on shared European values. In particular, EQAR recommended not to engage in work with institutions whose leaders signed the RUR statement.

EQAR supported a statement signed by a large number of European Higher Education Area (EHEA) members and consultative members, which condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine as fundamental violation of the values, principles and goals of the EHEA, and of the obligations and commitments Russia has undertaken since it joined the EHEA in 2003. The statement calls for a suspension of Russia’s rights of representation in all structures and activities of the EHEA.

In the event of a suspension of Russia’s right of representation in the EHEA, the EQAR Register Committee considers that operations in Russia will temporarily not qualify to fulfil the eligibility criterion for EQAR registration that an agency operates in the EHEA (see §1.5 of EQAR Procedures for Applications).

As a result, the registration of agencies operating only in Russia would be suspended (currently one agency), until Russia’s representation in the EHEA will resume. The Register Committee postponed the consideration of one application for registration pending an EHEA decision on the matter. The agencies concerned have been informed of these decisions.

Substantive Change Reports
The Register Committee also discussed the following reported substantive changes.

  • AIC – Academic Information Centre (Latvia)
    Following some issues identified in an initial Substantive Change Report, AIC reported further on the Accreditation of foreign study programmes and the process for inclusion of licensed study programmes on the accreditation of a study field. While some issues were resolved, those related to student experts on panels (ESG 2.4) and appeals (ESG 2.7) remained and were thus referred to the next external review of AIC.
  • EKKA – Estonian Quality Agency for Higher and Vocational Education
    EKKA discontinued the activities for assessment of joint programmes and third cycle programmes. For joint programmes, EKKA now uses the European Approach of Joint Programmes for programmes accredited by an EQAR registered agency. The European Approach is now possible in Estonia as a simplified procedure for both initial and re-assessment of joint study programmes. See Estonia’s country information page for more information.

Changes in EQAR’s Procedures
Following up on the recommendations in the External Evaluation Report, the RC discussed various ways to improve the work of the Register and agreed:

  • To change EQAR’s Procedures for Applications (regarding the suspension of an agency from the Register, substantive change report requirements, site visit expectations and also various proposals to reduce and simplify the registration process).
  • To simplify and reduce the length in the consideration of the Appeals Procedure.
  • To introduce a complaints procedure to ensure that applicant agencies (or other actors) can raise complaints about the review process, EQAR’s processes or those carrying it out.

The next Register Committee will take place at the end of June.