EQAR NEWSLETTER - MAY 2020
News: Virtual Register Committee | DEQAR CONNECT approved and kicked off | COVID-19 consequences l Annual update on registered agencies' activities l Students and external quality assurance (by ESU) l Quality assurance of joint programmes
Virtual Register Committee
The Register Committee held its first ever full-virtual meeting on 16 March and not in Porto, as had been planned. The Committee approved four renewals of registration:
- ACSUG – Agency for Quality Assurance in the Galician University System (Spain) ACSUG REPORTS IN DEQAR
- AHPGS – Accreditation Agency in Health and Social Sciences (Germany) AHPGS REPORTS IN DEQAR
- NCPA – National Centre for Public Accreditation (Russia) NCPA REPORTS IN DEQAR
- VLUHR QA – Quality Assurance Unit of the Flemish University and University Colleges Council
The full decisions of the Register Committee can be found here. The next Register Committee is scheduled for 22/23 June and a third meeting in the beginning of November.
DEQAR CONNECT approved and kicked off
We are happy to announce that our project Enhancing the Coverage and Connectivity of QA in the EHEA through DEQAR (DEQAR CONNECT) was selected for EU co-funding under the Erasmus+ call to support the implementation of European Higher Education Area (EHEA) reforms.
DEQAR is EQAR’s Database of External Quality Assurance Reports, launched in 2018. The DEQAR CONNECT project, which kicked off in March 2020, aims to not only enhance coverage to EHEA countries currently under-represented in DEQAR, but also to enhance connectivity by exploiting existing synergies and exploring new opportunities to use DEQAR data.
The first DEQAR CONNECT event took place last Monday: a kick-off webinar for QA agencies gathering 17 different quality assurance agencies, with a total of 41 attendees, organised by EQAR and ASHE. Peer support being a key ingredient for the effective transfer of knowledge, we have included QAAs with DEQAR experience as helper experts for the newcomer agencies. They will be teamed up according to needs and geographical location.
While agencies are eager to join in and start uploading their own reports in the DEQAR database, EQAR is eager to expand DEQAR coverage to new countries and to thus back the EHEA key commitments to support quality assurance & recognition inside the EHEA.
More about DEQAR CONNECT and its project partners can be found on the project web page.
The current COVID-19 pandemic impacts the work and daily life of everyone in European higher education. We are ready to support our members, registered quality assurance agencies and partners in the challenges they are currently facing where we can. We have gathered all related information on a dedicated page, including answers to frequent questions by registered agencies. EQAR staff are working from home until further notice, and we are reachable by email and phone as usual.
Annual update on registered agencies' activities
For the past sixt years EQAR has been monitoring changes in registered QA agencies activities through its Annual Update Survey.
The results of the latest Annual Update show that in 2019, the 49 EQAR-registered agencies carried out a total 10 115 external QA activities, which represents an increase of 13% compared to 2018 and a decrease of 2%, compared to 2017 (see chart below). These activites were carried out at programme (93%), institutional (6%) and joint programme level (0.7%) and are among the 300 different types of external QA procedures offered by the EQAR-registered agencies. Overall, this picture confirms that the evaluation instruments of quality assurance agencies are highly diversified and adapted to the different quality assurance systems where agencies operate.
Chart: Institutional, programme and joing programme reviews by year
The yearly difference in programme and institutional level QA activities can be largely attributed to the variability of the agencies activities from year to year. A closer look at the volume of yearly reported activities show that some agencies have continously reduced their external QA activities at programme level for the past four to five years (SKVC, SQAA and A3ES). These findings confirm the changes reported by the agencies themselves as they have been transitioning from a programme-level accreditation towards institutional review (accreditation/evaluation).
In 2019, half of EQAR-registered QA agencies (25) carried out at least one cross-border activity. In contrast to previous years, the majority of these reviews were carried out outside of the EHEA territories and countries (58%). This change possibly indicates an increased interest from higher education institutions from outside the EHEA in the recognition given by a review carried out against the ESG by an EQAR-registered agency.
Students and external quality assurance (by ESU)
High quality higher education is a constant goal for all higher education stakeholders. Quality assurance, the formal tool that helps higher education institutions (HEIs) to achieve this ambition, gathers experts from different stakeholder groups and includes students. They play an important role in both external and internal quality assurance.
With the aim of contributing to the meaningful participation of students in the quality assurance processes, European Students’ Union operates its own international pool of QA student-experts. The pool has over 50 qualified student-experts from all around Europe who are recruited annually and who are regularly updated by ESU about the (European) QA-related developments.
It is worth mentioning that some of the members of the pool have already found multiple uses of the Database of External Quality Assurance Reports (DEQAR). At the DEQAR Conference in October 2019, several members of ESU’s QA Pool presented interesting findings about QA developments based on the data available in the DEQAR database. Anna Klampfer and Liv Teresa Muth focussed their research on the involvement and role of students in QA reviews. Another member - Ignas Gaiziunas from Vilnius University analysed the outcomes and results of the cross-border QA reviews.
ESU’s QA pool members are well-prepared students whose expertise in QA matches the needs of different stakeholders in higher education systems. Pool members may:
- Offer support to HEIs in establishing and enhancing students’ participation in internal QA.
- Cooperate with QA agencies that look for well trained and equipped international student experts.
- Be nominated at a national level to assist in different QA-related processes such as the establishment of QA agencies or in designing QA regulations.
In short, being a pool member is a great opportunity for QA student experts to get an enriching experience in quality assurance of higher education. For more information reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or download the brochure.
Quality assurance of joint programmes
The European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes, was developed to ease external quality assurance of joint programmes: it defines standards that are based on the agreed tools of the EHEA, without applying additional national criteria.
The new “Joint Programmes from A to Z” guide, published by Nuffic, integrates useful information on the European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes. It helps higher education institutions to sort out when the European Approach can be used and which are the key steps a joint programme consortium needs to take.