Quality assurance drive taking place in European higher education

Education unionists across Europe are seeking to promote the implementation of revised European quality assurance standards in higher education.

The Education International (EI) focus group of the EQUIP project, ‘Enhancing quality through innovative policy and practice’, met in Brussels, Belgium, on 15-16 March. The group devised ways to support and promote a consistent, efficient and innovative embedding of the revised Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ESG) in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) at grassroots level.

Education International represents the teaching profession in the EQUIP project, which comprises experienced education unionists and experts who have discussed ways to resolve challenges to the implementation of the ESG in the EHEA.

The other partners of the project are the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE), the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), the European University Association (EUA), the European Students’ Union (ESU), the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR), the University of Oslo (UiO), and the Portuguese Polytechnics Coordinating Council (CCISP).

Quality assurance

While quality assurance in general, and the ESG 2015 in particular, are vital in enhancing the attractiveness and competitiveness of European higher education, studies have shown that inconsistent implementation has been a major issue.

The EI EQUIP focus group said the higher education sector needs sufficient resources and reinvestment to ensure a balanced approach. In addition, academics and their unions need to be fully involved in collaboration with stakeholders and policy makers, particularly when changes are being introduced. Indeed, the involvement of the teaching profession varies considerably across countries that have introduced – or are introducing - change processes.

Impact study

The EI EQUIP focus group also will provide input for the EQUIP study that will examine the impact of the ESG revision on relevant stakeholders, the changes in practices necessary to comply with new elements of the ESG, and innovative approaches to tackling the challenges that arise as a result of the new elements of the ESG. The study, to be published at end-2017, will include recommendations for each stakeholders’ group for developing the quality of higher education through the use of the ESG.

Based on the conclusions of the EQUIP study, policy recommendations addressed at policy makers and to be presented to Ministers in charge of higher education at the 2018 EHEA Ministerial Conference in Paris, France will be devised.

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