Newsletter – May 2014
EAPAA and NOKUT Admitted to the Register
At its meeting on 22 and 23 May 2014 in Kaunas (Lithuania), the Register Committee admitted two quality assurance agencies to the Register:
- EAPAA – European Association for Public Administration Accreditation
- NOKUT – Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education
The Register Committee also decided to renew the registration of the Romanian Agency for Quality Assurance (ARACIS) and the Polish Accreditation Committee (PKA). Provisional registration was granted to the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC), following a merger of previously-registered FINHEEC with two evaluation bodies responsible for other education sectors.
The Register now features 32 agencies that have demonstrated their substantial compliance with the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ESG) through an independent external review.
RIQAA Dissemination Conference/EQAR Members' Dialogue
Save the date: 21/22 October 2014, Italy (tbc)
EQAR will be organising this year’s Members’ Dialogue in conjunction with the final dissemination conference of the RIQAA (Recognising International Quality Assurance Activity in the EHEA) project. The event is set to take place on 21/22 October 2014 (final confirmation pending), following the meeting of the EU Directors General for Higher Education in Italy. Registration for the event will be open in July.
The conference will be open to a broad range of policy makers and stakeholders in higher education (including BFUG representatives, ministries and public authorities, European higher education institutions, stakeholder organisations as well as quality assurance agencies). Participants will be invited to discuss the current level of recognition of international, cross-border external QA throughout the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), the experiences made by quality assurance agencies and higher education institutions and the resulting policy conclusions, which EQAR will feed into the preparation for the Yerenan Ministerial Conference in 2015.
European Union Ministers Call for Cross-Border Quality Assurance
On 20 May 2014, the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport meeting of the Council of the European Union adopted underlined that quality assurance "increases transparency and underpins trust in the relevance and quality of knowledge, skills, competences, and qualifications" and stressed that "cross-border cooperation in quality assurance has a vital role to play in building trust and raising quality standards".
Ministers called for "opening up opportunities for quality assurance agencies to offer cross-border quality assurance through [EQAR]" so as to "stimulate a European dimension in quality assurance and to facilitate cross-border evaluation and simpler procedures for joint programmes". Ministers further suggested "allowing EQAR-registered agencies to evaluate institutions offering cross-border and franchised provision" in Europe.
EQAR has been analysing legal frameworks and current experience in cross-border QA in its RIQAA project. EQAR is also actively contributing to the work on a European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes, which has recently been endorsed in principle by the Bologna Follow-Up Group (BFUG).
EQAR Annual Report 2013
The Annual Report 2013 summarises a busy and exciting year for EQAR, which also marked its fifth anniversary. Highlights of the year include the launch of the RIQAA project, the admission of quality assurance agencies to the Register from three countries with no agencies on the Register before (Estonia, Slovenia and United Kingdom), and the publication of the Register Committee's full decisions since the beginning of 2013.
Revision of the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG)
Following the agreement and presentation of the proposal for revised version of the “Standards and Guidelines for quality assurance in the European Higher Education Area” (ESG) in March 2014, the proposal was discussed by the Bologna Follow-Up Group (BFUG) at its meeting on 9/10 April 2014.
The organisations charged with the revision – the E4 Group (ENQA, ESU, EUA, EURASHE) in cooperation with BUSINESSEUROPE, Education International and EQAR – are currently identifying areas of consensus on requests for changes expressed at the BFUG meeting, and will revise the proposal until the BFUG's following meeting in September 2014.
The revised ESG will be adopted by European Ministers responsible for higher education at their summit in Yerevan in May 2015.
RIQAA Seminar: Cross-Border External Quality Assurance Activities
EQAR devoted a two-day seminar on cross-border external quality assurance activities of QA agencies. The event was hosted by ACQUIN and is part of the LLP co-funded RIQAA project carried out by EQAR in 2013/14. The seminar gathered about 50 participants from quality assurance agencies in 20 European countries. The presentations and discussions addressed the experiences, trends and developments in the field of cross-border reviews as well as the rationales behind developing international activities.
EQAR General Assembly
EQAR members convened in Athens on 8 April 2014 for their 8th General Assembly. The General Assembly approved the Work Plan 2014/15, of which the RIQAA project is one of the main activities. It elected a new Executive Board for a two-year mandate until the General Assembly of 2016. As of 1 May 2014, the Executive Board has assumed the following functions:
- Andreas Orphanides, EURASHE – President
- Fernando Galán Palomares, ESU – Vice-President
- Maria Kelo, ENQA – Vice-President
- Tia Loukkola, EUA – Treasurer
Four new Register Committee members were approved by the General Assembly. Their two-year mandate will start on 1 July 2014. Incoming members Olav Øye, Freddy Coignoul, Anita Līce, and Tibor Szanto will replace outgoing members Anca Prisacariu, Henrik Toft Jensen, Christoph Anz and Mala Singh.