Quality Assurance in European Higher Education Bologna Promoters’ Presentation Material (to be adapted as needed)
Quality assurance – why ?
From Industry to a Knowledge Society
Functions of QA
Developing a QA Process
European Standards and Guidelines
Tools for Success
Projects and initiatives in European QA
Content of the Presentation
A tool for addressing the complexities of European higher education
A relative concept, based on institutional mission and goals
C losely related to questions of ideology and power (who defines quality in which way, accountability aspects etc.)
In the best interest of students, employers and society in general, who should also be involved in the QA process
A dynamic, ongoing process
Potentially a bureaucratic burden, to be kept to a minimum
Orientation towards the future
What is QA?
Fitness for purpose
Compliance (zero error or deviation)
Satisfaction of students and parents
Value for money
Transformation (process of changing the student)
Enhancement (process of changing the university)
Control (punitive/rewarding process of QA)
Public information, reassurance, confidence
Why QA? A Multitude of Purposes
Short History of QA in European Higher Education
Teaching, learning, research and services are hardly measures or assessed in formal processes.
Quality notion in HE based on reputation of individual professors and departments of universities.
International discussions affirming the importance of safeguarding quality of higher education: UNESCO, OECD, INQAAHE…
Based on similar principles, many unique national and institutional QA approaches were developed.
Europe-wide efforts to enhance QA transparency, consistency and commonality to meet the needs of student mobility and cross-border cooperation of universities generated by internationalisation trends.
Joint European Standards and Guidelines, peer review process for legitimating QA agencies, and establishment of a Register of QA agencies.
General: Quality in HE and Research has always been an issue.
Peer approval and national authorities felt to no longer be enough to assure quality of growing mass education.
Led to formalised processes for assessing the quality of higher education, particularly the teaching and learning aspects.
First quality assurance concepts were borrowed from industrial production processes, focusing on assessment of “ products” , measurable outcomes by employing bottom-line standards .
HE institutions develop QA processes and enhance awareness for the need of more institutionalised ways of quality assessment
But: QA processes not fully geared towards
specific nature & mission of HE institutions (social interaction in learning and research, resulting not necessarily in “products” or a clear-cut assessable outcomes)
social and economic change (increasingly knowledge-based )
From product assessment …
Good QA of higher education needs to consider not only outcomes but also the context and the interaction of players
Specifically relationships between:
The mission goals of the university;
Researcher, teachers, students and administrative staff;
The framework of the conditions set by the university environment in its unique political, social and economic situation .
Quality assurance as a joint shared effort of all members of the institution = Quality Culture
… to institutional Quality Culture in a Knowledge-based Society
A shared culture that values quality, not only managerial processes.
Not just a task of the QA specialist or the QA unit, but the collective attitude directing the actions of all stakeholders.
Includes internal reviews that are coherent with its own mission, objectives, and academic and organisational values.
An important aspect of maintaining a balance between autonomy and uniqueness with accountability.
QA has two main functions:
Quality enhancement: the maintenance and continual enhancement of teaching, learning and research, and of the entire institutional framework Internal QA
..with regards to the outside world External QA
Accountability: the demonstration of quality to external stakeholders (governments, students, parents, employers, society) for different reasons, including legal requirements and promotion of the university . External QA
Functions of QA
What : review processes and implementation of new strategies fit to the mission goals, profile and context of a university
Why: for the enhancement of the overall performance of the institution and all its parts and elements, and the promotion of creativity and innovation
How: activated by a dynamic quality culture – shared values and attitudes, staff identification with the university as a community of learning, etc.
What: either voluntary or compulsory review/evaluation/audit by an external QA review body
Why: accountability and validation, and trust building between the institution and the outside world
How: often motivated by laws or requirements of funding agencies
Aspects of Institutional QA
Output: Examine the outcomes of the institution’s activities: teaching, research, goal achievement etc. Associated with excellence, fitness-for-purpose, effectiveness.
Input: Tallying of factors like equipment, staffing, funding etc. Needs to be related to output.
Process: The activities that lead to the desired outcomes, such as governance structures, decision-making processes or administrative procedures.
Developing a QA process In order to achieve a sensible concept of quality, a QA process may need to consider all three aspects Quality Perspectives: A QA process can focus on
Developing a QA Process cont’d
Selecting an a pproach :
Selecting a focus :
Smaller units like research, services, faculty
Process, i.e. the institutional QA system itself
A combination of the above
Accreditation and Evaluation are the most commonly used methods for external QA at the level of institutions and programmes.
These processes are not usually employed in their pure forms anymore, but in combination.
The terms can mean different things in different places.
Accreditation and Evaluation: Different in process and purpose
formalised decision by an recognised authority (accreditation agency) as to whether an institution of higher education or a programme conforms to certain defined minimum standards.
Predefined consequences of a formal nature: authorisation to run a programme or institution, or: no accreditation/ closure
Yes/No decision – in some cases conditional “Yes”
Evaluation aims at supporting the institution’s or programme’s efforts towards development and improvement
Aims at increasing strategic capacity for change and internal quality culture
Recommendations for enhancement, change, reorientation
Shared features :
self-evaluation/documentation submitted by institution or programme
external assessment by peers
Accreditation and Evaluation: Examples for mixed procedures
Increasingly, a methodological mix can be observed:
A fitness-for-purpose approach would consider – probably intrinsically - a minimum “standard”, i.e. what is appropriate of an institution of this mission and standing.
a standard-based approach would have to consider fitness-for-purpose, i.e. in addition to national standards, the specific situation and mission of the institute
Evaluation can be linked to a formalized decision and concrete obligations and sanctions
Accreditation can recommend improvement, …
Based on the ability of the institute to saveguard the quality of its parts
Easier to facilitate
Benefits all parts of the institution
Can not guarantee the quality of all programmes and services
appear as the more thorough approach, as it delivers a judgment or recommendations on the quality of the one specific programme.
in practice, it implies considerable costs and workload (periodicity, preparation of self-assessment report etc.)
Institutional quality may limit programme performance
Programme, institution or process? A QA process may need to combine these approaches according to national and institutional requirements Institution, Process
Increased competition, growing global higher education market, debate on trade in educational services (GATS)
46 European Countries looking for convergence through common structures and tools - focus on teaching and learning
27 European Union Member States with ambitious economic and social goals – focus on research and wider societal transformation process
Demand for quality enhancement, and more convergence, cooperation and exchange in QA processes
European Union Council Recommendation 24 September, 1998
Evaluation and improvement is a good thing
Bologna Declaration, 1999
More European cooperation in QA
Prague Communiqué, 2001
Quality is key to the success of the EHEA
Berlin Communiqué, 2003
Quality moves to the top of the agenda
The responsibilities of HEIs are acknowledged
Bergen Communiqué, 2005
Systematic introduction of internal QA directly correlation to external QA
European Standards and Guidelines
London Communiqué, 2007
Register of European Higher Education Quality Assurance Agencies
Policy context: Increasing importance of QA at European level Bologna Process – Ministerial Meetings
European Standards and Guidelines for QA
To be understood as joint principles to be considered during the development of national and institutional QA procedures.
Peer revies of QA agencies
All QA agencies must be recognised by a competent public authority in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), as well as be independent in operation and decision from third parties.
European Register of QA agencies (tbc 2007)
Instrument to assure and improve quality of QA agencies, and to promote mutual trust between them, as well as provide a list of reliable agencies institutions and governments can choose from.
European Forum for QA
European-level discussions about QA involving all constituencies and stakeholders.
Tools for Success: Post-Bergen 2005
Bergen 2005: European Standards and Guidelines
What they are:
Generic, not specific, principles of what should be done
A process-neutral source of assistance and guidance
What they are not :
A European quality assurance system
Why they are important:
Agreed through the Bologna Process
Stocktaking through the Bologna Process
Inter-relationship between internal, external QA and QA agency
Potential for more transparency, cooperation and exchange at European level
international visibility of European HE
London 2007: European Quality Register
Register of European and also international QA agencies
Promote the European Standards and Guidelines, in particular regarding QA agencies (peer review of agencies, impartiality etc.)
Purpose: to allow stakeholders and the general public open access to objective information about trustworthy QA agencies that are working in line with the ESG.
It will enhance confidence in HE in the EHEA and beyond, and facilitate the mutual recognition of QA and accreditation decisions.
Voluntary, self-financing, independent and transparent.
The register will be the responsibility of the main stakeholders: HEIs, students, QA agencies and social partners.
The E4 Group
European University Association (EUA)
European Student Union (ESU - formerly ESIB)
European University Colleges (EURASHE)
European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA)
Tasked by the European Ministers to develop and implement the Register
London 2007: Who does the Register? ENQA EUA EURASHE ESU
The Institutional Evaluation Programme
Quality Culture Project
Transnational European Evaluation Project I and II (TEEP)
Quality Procedures in European Higher Education
Quality Convergence Study Project
European Masters New Evaluation Methodolgy (EMNEM)