EQAR was founded to create an independent organisation as gatekeeper for reliable quality assurance agencies and to thus improve trust and confidence in European higher education
Explaining the Register
The European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) is the official Register of quality assurance agencies that work in line with an agreed common framework, the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG).
In most European countries, higher education institutions or study programmes are subject to regular external review by a quality assurance agency. EQAR is the official register of such agencies, only listing those that work in line with the ESG.
EQAR’s organisational structure was designed to enable the independent Register Committee to manage the Register and to ensure independence and integrity by appropriate checks and balances.
The Register aims to:
- Reduce opportunities for “accreditation mills” to gain credibility.
- Increase the transparency of quality assurance.
- Provide clear and reliable information on quality assurance provision in Europe.
What does it mean if an agency is on the Register?
Registered agencies are legitimate, trustworthy, transparent and they publish their reports and decisions.
They work in substantial compliance with the ESG; a set of standards and guidelines for internal and external quality assurance in higher education. This means, amongst others:
- that their work, be it institutional or (joint) programme accreditations, audits, evaluations, quality enhancement reviews, be it mandatory or voluntary quality assurance, can be used as a trusted source;
- that they have organisational- and operational independence and that their formal outcomes (decisions) are independent too;
- that they use carefully selected experts as peer-reviewers from various backgrounds (student, institution, employer, academic);
- that they undergo an external review every 5 years;
- that their full reports are published, clear and accessible.
This also means that if a dubious university or programme claims to have been accredited/evaluated by one of our registered agencies, this can be easily verified by going on the agency’s website (or in our database, if they publish their reports in DEQAR).
However, the opposite is not true, since application for inclusion on the Register is voluntary. Therefore, the fact that an agency is not included on the Register does not as such constitute any prejudice concerning the quality of its work, its credibility or legitimacy.
How does it work?
1) Quality assurance agency applies for registration
2) Evaluation and decision by Register Committee
3) If positive: the agency will be listed on the Register
- Quality assurance agencies interested in being listed on the Register will first have to undergo an external review against the ESG. The review process should be coordinated by an organisation independent of the applicant and separate from EQAR (e.g. ENQA). The coordinator is responsible for appointing an independent review panel.
- Applicant agencies will need to send this external review report, including a self-evaluation report and some other documents for their application to EQAR.
- A special and independent committee, the Register Committee, receives, evaluates and decides upon the applications from quality assurance agencies.
- When the Register Committee approves an application, the agency in question is added on the EQAR website under “Register”. The agency is now “listed on the Register” or “registered on EQAR”. If the agency is rejected, the agency concerned has the possibility to lodge an appeal.
Once the new agency has been accepted and listed, it has the right to upload its reports and decisions to the database (DEQAR). You can recognise those EQAR-registered agencies that publish their QA results on DEQAR by the orange buttons next to their entry on the list of registered agencies, e.g: View 4711 reports on 11 institutions
Monitoring of agencies
Being listed on the Register is not a “static state”; apart from the five-year cycle, agencies also need to notify EQAR about important changes (in legal form and status, amendments to their statutes etc). This is done so that EQAR will become aware of situations where an agency’s current practice differs substantially from the situation when it was admitted to the Register. Last but not least, individuals or organisations that have substantiated concerns about a registered agency’s compliance with the ESG may make a complaint to EQAR (Complaints Policy).
What information can be found on the Register?
Every listed agency has the same key information displayed on the Register:
- General information about the agency and its activities.
- Until when the registration is valid (5 year cycle).
- In which countries the agency carries out its external QA activities.
- A link to the decision on ESG compliance of the Register Committee (RC).
- A link to the review report about the QA agency (on which the RC bases its decision)
- Contact details and a direct link to the agency’s own review reports (about institutions and programmes) OR if the agency has uploaded their reports in DEQAR, a link to the reports in DEQAR.
Find out more about the whats and whys of DEQAR here.