EQAR NEWSLETTER - DECEMBER 2020
News: CEU Elkana Center to coordinate EQAR's external evaluation | DEQAR update | Hungary becomes governmental member of EQAR | EHEA Rome Ministerial Conference | New staff member EQAR Secretariat | Season's greetings
CEU Elkana Center to coordinate EQAR's external evaluation
We are pleased to announce that the Yehuda Elkana Center for Higher Education (CEU YECHE) was selected to coordinate the EQAR external evaluation. Out of five tenders, considering the relevant experience as well as the suitability and soundness of the approach, CEU YECHE came out as first choice to assume the overall responsibility for the evaluation process.
The Yehuda Elkana Center for Higher Education at Central European University (Vienna and Budapest) is a collaborative academic initiative carrying out applied policy research, consultancy and professional training in higher education. The Center was established in 2009and builds on more than two decades of experience at CEU in policy advising and professional development programs for governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and higher education institutions from countries on all continents.
CEU provost and Director of the center, Liviu Matei comments; "We feel privileged that an important actor in the European Higher Education Area has entrusted us to lead such a significant review process. We are looking forward to make a contribution to the work of EQAR and to quality assurance in the EHEA more broadly."
We are looking forward to our collaboration with Elkana Center in this important endeavor, which we hope will lead to constructive recommendations for enhancement.
The DEQAR CONNECT project further advanced by means of several meetings and activities, listed according to the two different project strands:
Expand coverage to EHEA countries currently under-represented in DEQAR:
- After a (virtual) peer support meeting for QA agencies that took place in September, many of the agencies have progressed and started uploading data. Currently, 11 out of the 13 partner agencies have started uploading reports in DEQAR.
- Since the beginning of the DEQAR CONNECT project, DEQAR has recorded approximately 200 new higher education institutions, while four QA agencies have newly established connectivity with DEQAR for the first time.
- As a result, DEQAR now has significant* coverage of higher education institutions in 20 countries, three more than before (i.e. Austria, Hungary and Norway).
*Coverage is considered to be significant when reports have been submitted on over 50% of the institutions listed in the European Tertiary Education Register (ETER).
Enhance connectivity by exploiting existing synergies and exploring new opportunities to use DEQAR data:
- Following the Roundtable on Higher Education Data Interoperability held in September, EQAR has continued its cooperation with a number of other European initiatives in the field of HE data in order to work on better connecting existing systems and data sets. As a first concrete problem domain it was agreed to tackle the question of higher education institution identifiers. Based on a number of agreed use cases, a technical group has been working on the requirements for an enhanced approach to identifying higher education institutions in Europe. These are currently under discussion and concrete proposals will be made on that basis.
- One of the specific DEQAR CONNECT activities is to create a compatibility layer for Europass and its Digital Credentials Infrastructure (EDCI), so that DEQAR data would feed directly into the Accreditation Database underlying the EDCI. The implementation of this interface has been planned further with the Europass team at the European Commission and the DEQAR developers. Further details and next steps will be available in January 2021.
- ENIC-NARICs partners (CIMEA, CNRED, France Éducation international and Nuffic) are working on how to best establish connectivity with DEQAR. Three of them have already tested/piloted the connection and will fully develop it later, while the last one is planning the DEQAR connectivity together with their next (internal) system update.
Hungary becomes governmental member of EQAR
We are very glad to welcome Hungary as governmental member. As from 2021, Hungary will be EQAR's 43rd governmental member, thus participating in its overall governance. All signatory countries of the Bologna Process can become governmental members of EQAR. Find out more about how and why to become governmental member.
“The Hungarian Government decided on Hungary’s accession to the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education General Assembly on 17 August 2020. By this decision Hungary has confirmed its commitment to build a European Higher Education Area where quality is of major significance.
With the 1999 Bologna Declaration, the Ministers responsible for higher education aimed to achieve the interoperability of higher education systems of the EHEA countries. We are convinced that being an EQAR governmental member reaching this aim gets more achievable for Hungary.
Hungary reaffirms its commitment to developing a more inclusive, innovative, interconnected and resilient European Higher Education Area. We are fully committed to support young people and adults to take part in Hungarian higher education and enable them to be successful actors in the labour market, in our societies and in their private lives.” (Dr. Laura Sinóros-Szabó, Head of Department for the Hungarian Ministry for Innovation and Technology)
EHEA Rome Ministerial Conference
The EHEA Ministerial Conference was held online this year, on 19 November 2020. In their Rome Communiqué, EHEA ministers encouraged the further development of the Database of External Quality Assurance Results (DEQAR) to facilitate automatic recognition, and committed to removing the remaining obstacles, including those related to the cross-border operation of EQAR registered agencies and the application of the European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes.
Karl Dittrich, EQAR President, emphasised the importance of having the support of all EHEA governments in finding the best solutions for cross-border cooperation and to facilitate mobility while underpinning academic freedom and democratic values.
New staff member EQAR Secretariat
We are delighted to (re-)introduce our new colleague Pooja Venkatesh who joined the Secretariat as Project Reporting & Finance Officer in November on a part-time basis. Some of you might remember her from last year, when she worked for EQAR as temporary agency worker to coordinate the DEQAR project financial reporting.
Pooja has a Master degree from KU Leuven in International Business Economics and Management, and a degree in Commerce from India. She will take care of general finances, accounting and office management and coordinate the financial reporting of the DEQAR CONNECT project.
The EQAR Secretariat is now back to its full planned capacity.
We wish everyone a relaxing and restorative holiday season and above all, a very happy, healthy and less socially distant New Year!
Although most of us are in a hurry to forget about 2020 and start afresh, we should not gloss over the fact that, despite the year being what it was, a lot was accomplished in very challenging circumstances by all actors in the higher education landscape, but especially by the students and higher education institutions. That being said, we hope the new year will bring us social gatherings, live meetings and last but not least: proper hugs!
Karl Dittrich (EQAR President)
Colin Tück, Melinda Szabo, Annelies Traas, Pooja Venkatesh & Sandra Zhivkovikj (EQAR Secretariat)
Season's greetings from Brussels (Grand Place)
Please note that the EQAR office will be closed from 24 December 2020 until 4 January 2021.