CURRENT REVIEWS

Accreditation Agency for Study Programmes in Health and Social Sciences (AHPGS)

The partial review will evaluate the way in which and to what extent the Accreditation Agency for Study Programmes in Health and Social Sciences (AHPGS) fulfills the criteria for ENQA membership and thus the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area. The evaluation is scheduled to finish April 2020.

Background and context

On 25 April 2019, the Board of ENQA considered the final review report of AHPGS for the purpose of the agency’s membership renewal in ENQA. During this meeting, the Board felt there was some lack of clarity concerning the panel’s interpretation on the ESG standards 3.4 Thematic analysis and 3.5 Resources. Therefore, before taking a decision on the approval of the report and the reconfirmation of membership, the Board decided to ask the panel to revise the report either by elaborating its analysis and clarifying the current judgement, or by reconsidering the judgement in itself.

Following the panel’s response, the Board discussed the revised report, the panel chair’s letter, and re-scrutiny of the revised report on 20 June 2019 and decided to put AHPGS under the status of “Member under review” (until 20 June 2021). The Board namely found a ‘non-compliance’ on ESG 3.4 Thematic analysis. To be in line with the requirements of the ESG, the agency should regularly publish reports that describe and analyse the general findings of its own external quality assurance activities.

On 8 August 2019, AHPGS sent a complaint and appeal against the ENQA Board decision from 20 June 2019. The document addressed the following points:

  • An appeal against the Board decision on the ESG 3.4 (judged as non-compliant)
  • An appeal against the justification in the Board’s decision that no work on thematic analysis has been undertaken since the previous review in 2015
  • An appeal against the Board decision on the ESG 2.1 (judged as partially compliant)
  • A complaint against the lack of transparency in the decision-making process
  • A complaint about the non-consultation of AHPGS in the context of the postponement of decision on membership.

In line with article 24 of the ENQA Rules of Procedure, the Secretariat first reviewed the appeal and complaint and determined that eligible grounds and supporting evidence have been presented in the document of AHPGS. The ENQA Secretariat then forwarded the appeal and complaint for the consideration of the Board, who agreed on 19 September 2019 to distribute the appeal and complaint documentation to the Appeals and Complaints Committee (hereinafter the Committee). The report of the Committee was completed on 25 October 2019 and then submitted to the Board. The report recommended the Board to reject the appeal and complaint and stand by its initial decision on insufficient overall level of compliance of AHPGS with the ESG. More specifically, the Committee concluded that the agency remains non-compliant with the ESG 3.4, whereas the agency was found to be substantially compliant on ESG 2.1. Regarding the complaints that were raised, the Committee found that the ENQA Board followed due process in accordance with its Rules of Procedure in carrying out the review of AHPGS, therefore the main substance of the complaint was not upheld.

Following this, the Board took a decision at its meeting on 28 November 2019, in which it followed the statement of the Committee, i.e. the Board rejected AHPGS’ appeal and complaint and stood by its initial decision not to renew AHPGS membership in ENQA and to designate the agency as “Member under review” for a period of two years from 20 June 2019.

In the Board letter dated 3 December 2019, the Agency was explained that it will need to undergo a new partial review process at the end of this period, or sooner, if it wishes. The partial review should focus in particular on ESG 3.4 Thematic analysis. The ENQA Rules of Procedure namely state the following regarding the status of “Member under review” (see article 7, paragraph 2):

“A further, partial review shall be carried out by reviewers nominated by the ENQA Board, at the latest at the end of the two-year period and shall focus on the deficiencies mentioned in the review report and/or those highlighted by the Board in its letter.”

Following this, on 19 December 2019 AHPGS officially approached ENQA to coordinate the abovementioned partial review and prepare a review report that will be considered for the purpose of ENQA membership renewal.

Review process

As explained in chapter 1 of this document, ENQA Board decided at its meeting on 28 November 2019 to reject AHPGS membership renewal, judging that the agency achieved non-compliance with the ESG 3.4 Thematic analysis and thus failed to prove sufficient overall level of compliance with the ESG.

The partial review will address the abovementioned ESG standard 3.4 through the following list of activities of AHPGS:

  1. Programme accreditation in Germany
  2. System accreditation in Germany
  3. Institutional audit in Austria
  4. Programme accreditation in Austria
  5. Institutional evaluation in Romania
  6. Programme evaluation in Romania
  7. Institutional audit in Slovenia
  8. Institutional accreditation in Switzerland (not yet been carried out in practice)
  9. Other programme accreditations carried out abroad.

The agency is expected to produce a self-assessment report on the points raised in relation to the ESG 3.4, indicating in particular the changes that have taken place since the last full review.  In addition, the agency will indicate any eventual changes and developments in the agency beyond those listed under the criteria under scrutiny.

The partial review does not foresee a site visit to the agency. As the ENQA’s policy for partial reviews[1] (see the chapter on site visits) states:

“The duration and the programme of the site visit will depend on the number of type of elements to be looked at by the review panel. In practice this is likely to mean a visit of 1-2 days. Other arrangements such as a visit by the panel chair only, or no visit at all (only study of the SAR and additional documentation) may also be considered if appropriate.” Therefore, in the case of this partial review, the panel is expected to analyse all evidence as provided in the SAR by the agency. Additionally, the panel is welcome to request for additional documentation to be provided by the agency in written.

The report by the reviewers will concentrate on the same criteria and assess how the compliance has evolved since the last full review. It will also assess any eventual changes that have been brought to the attention of the panel in the self-assessment report.

[1] See here: https://enqa.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/ENQA-Agency-Reviews_Partial-Reviews.pdf

Review panel
The panel is composed of the following members:

  • Oliver Vettori, Dean, Accreditation & Quality Management / Director, Program Management & Teaching and Learning Affairs, WU – Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria – Chair, quality assurance professional and academic (EUA nominee)
  • Stephanie Hering, Project Manager, Swiss Agency of Accreditation and Quality Assurance (AAQ), Switzerland – Panel member, quality assurance professional (ENQA nominee)
  • Francisco Gonzalez, Student of Master in Science and Technology in Architecture, Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena, Spain – Panel member (ESU nominee, member of the European Students’ Union Quality Assurance Student Experts Pool)

This review is being coordinated by Goran Dakovic.