EQAR NEWSLETTER - DECEMBER 2023
News: Register Committee meeting in Paris | EQAR moves offices | Members' Dialogue update | Project news | Developments in the legal framework in Croatia | Thank you, Melinda! | New staff member | Season's greetings
Register Committee meeting in Paris
The fourth and last Register Committee meeting of 2023 took place in Paris on 11-12 December, graciously hosted by ADIUT (Assembly of the Directors of the “Instituts Universitaires de Technology”).
The Register Committee discussed and took note of several change reports and approved the following applications for inclusion/renewal of registration on the Register:
AKAST - Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation of Canonical Programmes of Studies in Germany
AKAST reports in DEQAR
ARACIS - Romanian Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education
ARACIS reports in DEQAR
MAB - Hungarian Accreditation Committee
MAB reports in DEQAR
- SAAHE - Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education (initial application)
The Register Committee unanimously re-elected Beate Treml as Vice-Chair of the Register Committee for the period 2024-2026. Beate has been a member of the Register Committee since 2017 and Vice-Chair since 2019.
EQAR moves offices
The EQAR Secretariat moved into new office premises this week, after having been housed for the last six years at the top floor of the Neth-ER offices.
We will miss our colleagues from Neth-ER and DAAD (who were also in the same building), but will undoubtedly enjoy the company of other friendly faces at our new location (such as ENQA and the Lifelong Learning Platform) in the Mundo Trône* building!
Nijverheidsstraat 10 Rue de l’Industrie
1000 Brussels, Belgium
Our new office is just 500 meters away from our old one. Feel free to visit us when you are in the neighbourhood!
* Mundo Trône is an eco-managed office and meeting center dedicated to associations, NGOs and social enterprises. They host around 30 organisations working on different issues: youth, education, development, LGBTQ, health, disability, etc. It offers private professional workspaces, meeting rooms and various other services.
Members' Dialogue update
The 13th EQAR Members’ Dialogue (MD) was hosted by the University of Granada on 9-10 November.
Ana Rivas, Vice-Rector for Quality, Teaching Innovation and Undergraduate Studies of the University of Granada welcomed all participants to Granada and stressed the importance of trust in qualifications through quality assurance and the relevance and importance of having EQAR as official register of QA agencies.
The two main topics, the QA-FIT Focus Group and the EQAR Strategy, were covered extensively, generating fruitful discussions and insightful comments from participants.
Other topics also passed the revue, ranging from the European Degree to the European Approach for QA of Joint programmes, the QA of micro-credentials, the European Digital Credentials for Learning (including a DEQAR connection) and the European Blockchain Initiative (EBSI), using DEQAR data.
Sound-bites on the topics of "the future of the ESG" and "internationalistion of QA" (QA Fit Focus Group for ministries):
- Thanks to the European University Alliances and the current initiatives piloting a joint European degree label, there is a strong push to move forward. Solutions should be applicable to the whole EHEA however.
- DEQAR data provide an indication of internationalisation through information on cross-border QA activities and the use of the European Approach for QA of Joint Programmes.
- Contrary to the common believe that ministries regulate everything, survey responses showed that most QA agencies help design the national QA framework (which is actually stated in the ESG themselves; “Stakeholders should be involved in its design and continuous improvement”).
- We don’t necessarily need a revolution, but we do see a scope for broader ESG.
- Guidelines (ESG) are not actually guidelines – they are rather an interpretative text for implementing the standards. For the next revision of the ESG, it is crucial to detect which standards need to be more explicit and which are sufficiently clear as they are.
Sound-bites on the strategy:
- What is the ultimate goal of the member states? "Trust in qualifications"?
- EQAR is in the best position to discuss the QA developments and trends with ministries and is not there just to provide information; EQAR contributes to enhancing higher education policy.
- EQAR could do even more in the outreach to ministries and thus help building more trust. One aspect would be to make the access to the information already available (both on the website and on DEQAR) more accessible, another aspect would be to promote it further (via short webinars or other means).
1) Implementation and Innovation in QA through Peer Learning (IMINQA)
This umbrella project supports the work of the Bologna Thematic Peer Group C on Quality Assurance, focusing on the implementation of the key commitment on quality assurance in all EHEA countries.
The fourth meeting of the Bologna Thematic Peer Group C on Quality Assurance took place online at the beginning of this month. EQAR presented the outcomes of the 3rd IMINQA PLA (on the topic of the European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes), as well as the inclusion of micro-credentials & alternative providers in DEQAR. In addition to this, there was a presentation on the general state-of-play and work plan of the TPG C on the new way of working on the QA of European Universities. Furthermore, the preliminary results of the survey Digitalisation of QA processes were shared, as well as the final Report of the TPG C and contribution to the Tirana Communiqué.
2) Quality Assurance Fit for the Future (QA-FIT)
The QA-FIT project addresses whether the ESG are "fit" for the future, and if not, how to make sure they are.
To this end, as part of a mapping exercise to collect evidence on the scope and implementation of quality assurance policies and practices, surveys for all stakeholder groups were sent out last year and have been collected and analysed. EQAR was responsible for the surveys for the ministries of higher education. The survey to the ministries, EQAR’s responsibility of the project, yielded some very interesting results, which have been scrutinised and interpreted in the "Analysis of Ministry Survey Responses".
The next step of the QA Fit project was the QA-FIT Focus Group for ministries, which was organised in conjunction with the Members' Dialogue in Granada (see above). The Focus Group was organised to discuss in detail the matters arising from the QA-FIT two cross-cutting papers, including perspectives of all stakeholder groups (students, universities, professional HEIs, QA agencies) as well as the future implications for the European framework for quality assurance.
3) The TPG-LRC Constructing Recognition in the EHEA (TPG-LRC CoRE)
The TPG (Thematic Peer Group) - LRC (Lisbon Recognition Convention) Constructing Recognition in the EHEA is an umbrella project that aims to support the implementation of the Bologna Process, focusing on key commitment 2: national legislation and procedures compliant with the Lisbon Recognition Convention.
EQAR is leading the working group on digitalisation of recognition tools, which organised three peer learning webinars recently. The last of these took place two weeks ago and saw the Norwegian ENIC-NARIC Norway (NOKUT) present their digital statements and the eco-system that enables automatic sharing of the document with other national databases.
All of the webinars included sessions for the sharing of good practice and advice among the members of the TPG B group. Participants reflected on the main challenges and solutions in their national systems on the topic of the digitalisation of recognition flows. The discussions focused on several areas, including on privacy and ownership of data, international collaboration, legislative synchronisation and interoperability with national and European databases.
Developments in the legal framework in Croatia
Since the adoption of the European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes in 2015, at least 13 higher education systems that have a requirement for programme-level accreditation, have amended their legislation to permit the use of the European Approach by some or all of their higher education institutions.
The most recent development took place in Croatia with the adoption of the Act on Quality Assurance in Higher Education and Science (Official Gazette no. 151/22). Joint study programmes offered by Croatian institutions may now use for their mandatory accreditation the European Approach for Quality Assurance.
⇒ Check out the evaluation reports of two such institutions that have already done so
While progress is evident, significant advancements are yet to materialise to ensure the widespread use of the European Approach across the European Higher Education Area.
Thank you, Melinda!
Melinda Szabó joined the Secretariat in March 2013 as Project Officer. Since then she became Policy Analyst, Senior Policy Analyst and Deputy Director. Melinda, also known as our human “database of precedents”, built up a wealth of QA knowledge during these years and contributed to many of the EQAR milestones.
Thank you, Melinda, for being such an important part of EQAR and for more than ten years of collegiality, commitment, policies, analyses and perseverance. Your dedication and hard work have left a mark on EQAR. We are very sorry to see you go, but are sure our paths will still cross. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours, may you find success and fulfilment in your next chapter!
New staff member
We are pleased to introduce Giorgi Munjishvili who will join the EQAR Secretariat as Policy and Project Officer in January. He will support the Register (analyse applications and change reports, review & update information, guide agencies), work on the maintenance and development of DEQAR and will do project related work and desk research.
Georgi holds a master degree in Political Sciences from the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena (Germany) and a master degree in Education Administration from the Ilia State University in Tbilisi (Georgia). Georgi worked at the European University in Tbilisi as Head of the Strategic Development Office, and before that as Head of Quality Assurance and Strategic Development.
He also worked at NCEQE, the National Center For Educational Quality Enhancement (one of EQAR's registered agencies) as Deputy Head of Planning, Research, and International Relations.
We look forward to working with him!
After an eventful and busy year, the EQAR Secretariat is ready to have a break for the holidays.
We wish you, your family, friends and other loved ones, a lovely holiday season and a healthy, happy and harmonious 2024!
Stéphane Lauwick (EQAR President)
Magalie Soenen, Melinda Szabó, Annelies Traas, Blazhe Todorovski, Pooja Venkatesh & Sandra Zhivkovikj (EQAR Secretariat)
(Please note that the EQAR office will be closed from 23 December 2023 until 2 January 2024.)