Application and Eligibility

The application process for inclusion on the Register or renewal of registration consists of three stages:

  1. After the agency submits its application, EQAR verifies the eligibility of the agency, its activities and the review coordinator. As a result, tripartite Terms of Reference are agreed between the applicant, the review coordinator and EQAR.
  2. The applicant undergoes an external review against the ESG. The review process is coordinated by an organisation independent of the applicant and separate from EQAR (e.g. ENQA), which is responsible for appointing an independent review panel.
  3. The applicant submits the panel’s final report, analysing its compliance with the ESG, and the EQAR Register Committee makes a decision on registration.
Illustration 1: Stages of the Application Process
Application Steps Responsible actor (s) Timeline (estimation)
Selection of the review coordinator Applicant Month 0
Application Applicant Month 1
Eligibility verification EQAR Month 2
Final Terms of Reference (ODT, DOC) Applicant & Coordinator & EQAR Month 3
Self-evaluation report Applicant Month 3-5
Site visit Review panel Month 5-6
External review report Review panel Month 8-9
Submission of review documents Applicant & Coordinator Month 9-12
Decision on registration EQAR Month 12-18
Illustration 2: Flowchart of the Application Process

Eligible organisations and activities

Registration is open to organisations that carry out external quality assurance activities in higher education, regardless of whether they are based in Europe or outside, regardless of whether they are national or international in nature and whether the review carried out is part of a statutory mandate or initiated by a higher education institution on a voluntary basis.

Quality assurance agencies applying for an EQAR registration have to carry out external quality assurance activities within the scope of the ESG, which may cover different forms of reviews such as audit, evaluation, certification or accreditation of higher education institutions and programmes.

The ESG generally relate to processes following an expert or peer review methodology, addressing the quality dimensions described in Part 1 of the ESG.

“ESG-type activities” are characterised by the following:

  • Subject: the activity is substantially concerned with teaching and learning in higher education, including the learning environment and relevant links to research and innovation.
  • Object: the activity concerns (an) organisational unit(s) such as (an) individual higher education institution(s), (a) study programme(s), (a) faculty(ies) or (a) department(s).
  • Nature: the activity follows a predefined process in which the object is evaluated/assessed against a set of predefined standards or another reference point, with limited or no flexibility; or the activity is undertaken for the purpose of awarding any kind of certificate, label or mark.
  • Typical terminology: the terms “evaluation”, “review”, “audit”, “assessment” or “accreditation” (see ESG 3.1) are used.

The ESG describe their scope in broad terms and do not limit it to statutory or obligatory external QA. The Register Committee therefore considers activities to be within the scope of the ESG irrespective of whether they fulfil a statutory mandate or take place on a voluntary basis.

If the organisation (or a clearly identified sub-unit of the organisation) does not directly perform any external quality assurance activities, it can not be considered for inclusion on the Register.

Many quality assurance agencies also carry out a range of other activities outside the scope of the ESG (see Illustration 2 for an overview). These may include:

  • activities that are external quality assurance in nature (i.e. characterised by elements c and d above), but that do not relate to teaching and learning in higher education, or that do not concern individual higher education institutions or programmes;
  • activities that relate to teaching and learning, but that are not external quality assurance in nature (e.g. projects, consultancy services) and do not relate to ESG-type activities; and
  • activities that are neither external quality assurance in nature, nor relate to teaching and learning in higher education.
Illustration 2: Typology of the applicants’ external QA activities

Eligible review coordinators

The review coordinator is the organisation that takes responsibility for the practical organisation of the review process. It is the applicant’s responsibility to identify a review coordinator that has the necessary professional capacity, is independent from the applicant and has no conflict of interest with the applicant.

The review coordinator plays an important role in developing the Terms of Reference, recruiting an independent review panel and being responsible for the overall management of the review process. The coordinator also has to provide appropriate guidance to the review panel throughout the whole process.

EQAR has verified the review process and established a continuous collaboration with the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA). Reviews coordinated by ENQA are thus automatically considered eligible.

Quality assurance agencies seeking registration on EQAR may choose another suitable organisation as a coordinator. Such an organisation needs to posses the necessary professional capacity and be independent of the applicant.

The review shall be conducted in an unbiased, objective and independent manner. (§ 1.7 Procedures for Applications)

Making an Application

The application can be made at any time, without fixed deadlines. The applicant organisation will have to submit the on-line Application Form, completed by an authorised representative of the applicant.

On the Application Form, the applicant will need to:

  • provide basic information on the agency,
  • describe all its activities,
  • indicate which activities the applicant considers to be within the scope of the ESG, and
  • provide information about the planned external review process, including the coordinator of the review.

This information will be used to check whether the external review process conforms with EQAR requirements and to confirm which activities are considered to be within the scope of the ESG and, thus, need to be analysed in the external review. If the application is successful, this information will also be used to populate the public register entry of the agency.

The Online Application Form can be filled in here: https://www.eqar.eu/register/online-application-form/

The applicant will be asked to upload two annexes with the Application Form:

  1. Signed Application Form: this form needs to be signed by the agency’s legal representative – template in PDFDOC, ODT formats.
  2. Draft Tripartite Terms of Reference: this document should be agreed between the agency and the coordinator.If ENQA coordinates the review, ENQA will use our agreed template and provide you with the required document.If you choose another coordinator, we recommend you use the sample document available in DOC and ODT formats. If you or the coordinator draw up your own document, please include provisions at least on those matters as addressed in the sample.

Eligibility decision

EQAR will confirm within three to four weeks whether the applicant meets the eligibility requirements and will confirm which activities are considered within the scope of the ESG and, thus, relevant to the application.

In case of a need to clarify issues related to the review process or the status of a specific activity, EQAR will contact the applicant and propose to clarify these matters in a telephone conversation. EQAR will produce the minutes of the telephone conversation that will become part of the application documentation. At the applicant’s request, EQAR will send a written request instead.

EQAR will usually confirm eligibility by agreeing to the draft Tripartite Terms of Reference or by requesting amendments, where necessary.

In case the review coordinator is an organisation that has not previously coordinated reviews for EQAR registration, EQAR will seek an informative conversation with the coordinator before the process commences.

Please note that the confirmation of eligibility is not binding in case it is later revealed that the applicant’s activities or the actual external review process differ substantially from what was initially declared.

Fees

Applicants and registered agencies are expected to pay: an application fee and an annual listing fee.

The applicant will receive an invoice for the application fee after submission of the review documents. The application fee is not refundable (see the FAQ for further details).

If the application is approved, the annual listing fee must be paid for each year of inclusion on the register. Agencies will receive an invoice for each calendar year (for the first time a few weeks after their inclusion, then in the beginning of each year), requesting payment of the listing fee for full months included on the register in the respective year.

For instance, an agency, from an EHEA member country, registered from 15/4/2013 until 31/5/2015 would receive the following invoices (excl. VAT):

2013 8 full months (May – December) 688,00 €
2014 full year 1.032,00 €
2015 5 full months (January – May) 430,00 €

Applicants that have their registered office in a state party to the European Cultural Convention will be charged a reduced “EHEA” fee. All other applicants will be charged the “Full” fee.

Application and listing fees apply as of 1 January 2013
EHEA Fee Full Fee
ex vat inc vat ex vat inc vat
application fee 1 032,00 € 1 248,72 € 2 064,00 € 2 497,44 €
monthly listing fee 86,00 € 104,06 € 172,00 € 208,12 €

According to the EQAR Register Committee’s decision of 5/6 June 2016, an agency’s registration will be suspended if the annual fee has not been settled by the end of the year (31 December).

During the suspension, the agency will be listed on a separate page with a list of “suspended entries”, with an explanation why the registration is suspended, and disappear from all maps and listings. Once the fees are paid, the agency will be automatically reinstated on the Register, with its original registration date.