Newsletter – May 2015
Message to the Yerevan Ministerial Conference
On the occasion of the upcoming European Higher Education Area (EHEA) Ministerial Conference (14/15 May 2015, Yerevan), EQAR's General Assembly adopted a Message to Ministers, which highlights the main developments in cross-border quality assurance and EQAR’s key activities.
Ministers are expected to adopt the revised version of the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG) and the new European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes. These provide a better and more solid basis for trust and cross-border recognition of quality assurance decisions in Europe. EQAR's message calls upon European Ministers to recognise this common ground and recommends that ministers:
- Review and adapt national regulations to help their national agencies to comply with the new and revised ESG;
- Allow their higher education institutions' to take responsibility for assuring their own quality and to choose a suitable EQAR-registered quality assurance agency for the external quality assurance process;
- Allow EQAR-registered agencies to operate in their country without additional prerequisites and recognise their outcomes in line with the national requirements.
Even though cross-border external quality assurance is a reality in almost all EHEA (see RIQAA project results ), it often takes place in parallel to the obligatory, national external quality assurance arrangements: only a small number of countries recognise the outcomes of a review by an agency from abroad. For institutions, this often means an unproductive duplication of efforts. EQAR's recommendations aim at removing duplication created by barriers to cross-border recognition of external quality reviews. Ministers are recommended to enable their higher education institutions to choose an agency that suits their mission, profile and needs.
Annual Report 2014
Another exciting year passed, marking some important milestones for EQAR: the endorsement by the BFUG of the Revised Version of the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG), the development of a European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes and the presentation of the conclusions of the RIQAA Project at the Final Conference and EQAR Members' Dialogue in Palermo.
The Report of the Register Committee is included in the Annual Report and provides an overview of the two application rounds in 2014 as well as the Register Committee's engagement with registered agencies between the periodic renewal of their registration, through substantive change reports, annual reporting and in case of complaints.
For the first time, the Annual Report includes a statistical overview of reviews carried out by EQAR-registered agencies in 2014, "at home" and across borders.
Preparing for the Revised ESG
With the upcoming adoption of the revised version of the ESG at the EHEA Ministerial Conference in Yerevan, European higher education institutions and quality assurance agencies are expected to soon look to the new standards in addressing their internal and external quality assurance.
Preparing for this transition, EQAR has already in 2014 established a Policy on Transition to the Revised ESG. The Register Committee is currently considering the last applications for inclusion on the Register and for renewal of registration under the current ESG. Decisions on these nine applications will be made in early June.
Applications for inclusion on the Register based on the new ESG will only be considered in early 2016. Agencies that would normally renew their registration in 2015 and 2016 can have their registration provisionally extended until 31/12/2016, so as to have sufficient time to adjust and prepare for a review against the revised ESG.
Furthermore, the EQAR Register Committee is about to finalise a revision of the EQAR Procedures for Applications and a new policy on the Use and Interpretation of the Revised ESG. The policy document will lay out expectations towards review reports as well as the Register Committee's interpretations of the new standards. The new policy document aims to guide potential applicants, registered agencies preparing for renewal of their registration as well as external review panels carrying out a review against the revised ESG.
Both the revised Procedures and the Use and Interpretation of the ESG were discussed with key stakeholder organisations (ENQA, ESU, EUA, EURASHE, BusinessEurope and Education International) in a special consultation session as well as with EQAR's governmental members during the General Assembly in March 2015. The documents will be published after adoption of the revised ESG at the Yerevan Conference. Together, they will be the basis for the work of the Register Committee.
EQAR General Assembly
The 9th EQAR General Assembly was held in Riga on 23 March 2015. A key outcome of the meeting was the adoption of the Message to the Yerevan Ministerial Conference (see above). Members of the GA also discussed the new policy document on the Use and Interpretation of the ESG, considered a number of amendments to the Procedures for Applications and approved the Work Plan 2015/2016.
Six new governmental members participated in their first General Assembly: Azerbaijan, Finland, Lithuania, Moldova, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and the United Kingdom. EQAR now has 37 Governmental Members, which are involved in the overall governance of EQAR. (Governmental membership is open to all EHEA countries without further requirements, and is not to be confused with the national quality assurance agency being listed on the Register, which requires that the agency evidences its compliance with the European Standards and Guidelines. 36 agencies from 18 countries are currently listed on the Register.)
For our upcoming newsletters we plan to introduce a bulletin board with brief news and updates related to EQAR and the European quality assurance framework, for example:
- Proposals concerning the use of EQAR in the national quality assurance frameworks of your country;
- Use of the European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes;
- Use of the ESG and EQAR for cross-border recognition of quality assurance outcomes;
- Media coverage on EQAR in your country or institution.
Please submit any suggestions for news and updates to firstname.lastname@example.org.