Application and Eligibility
The application process for inclusion on the Register or renewal of registration consists of three stages:
- 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.
- 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.
- The applicant submits the panel’s final report, analysing its compliance with the ESG, and the EQAR Register Committee makes a decision on registration.
|Application Steps||Responsible actor (s)||Timeline (estimation)|
|Selection of the review coordinator||Applicant||Month 0|
|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|
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.
Eligible review coordinators (updated Jan 2021)
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.
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 minimum requirements are set out in EQAR policy on the Eligibility of Review Coordinators and Panels. The applicant will be responsible to obtain and provide any evidence that EQAR may request to assess whether these requirements are fulfilled.
EQAR has verified the review process and established a continuous collaboration with the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) as coordinator of reviews. ENQA coordinated reviews are thus automatically considered eligible.
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:
- Signed Application Form: this form needs to be signed by the agency’s legal representative – template in PDF, DOC, ODT formats.
- Draft Tripartite Terms of Reference: this document should be agreed between the agency and the coordinator. In case ENQA coordinates the review, ENQA will use the tripartite agreed template with EQAR and provide the agency with the required document. IF the agency chooses another coordinator, we recommend to use the sample document available in DOC and ODT formats (once filled in, please attach it back in DOC or ODT as part of the application form). If you or the coordinator draw up your own document, please include provisions referred to in the sample.
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. 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.
Applicants and registered agencies are expected to pay: an application fee and an annual listing fee.
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.
|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.