AQ Austria offers recommendations following experience with European Approach

13 December 2017

A consortium of cooperating public and private universities from Austria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Slovenia requested AQ Austria to conduct an external quality assurance of its joint master’s programme in Political Science – Integration and Governance (PoSIG) according to the European Approach for Quality Assurance for Joint Programmes. A site visit took place in Salzburg on 1-2 December 2016 and in March 2017, the Board of AQ Austria granted accreditation to the joint master’s programme for a period of six years, subject to three conditions.

The European Approach provides a sound methodology regarding quality assurance of joint programmes, however, AQ Austria faced several problems in practice. The agency makes the following recommendations for those involved in a similar future procedure:

  • Consortia need to have an overview of legal frameworks and the various national regulations dealing with joint programmes. Legal obstacles need to be dismantled and an understanding of how the agency’s decision will be implemented in each country need to be clarified at the beginning.
  • Consortia should pay attention to Standard 1: Eligibility. Consortia need to prove that all partners are recognised as higher education institutions by relevant authorities in their countries. Consortia need to sound out responsibilities and particular national requirements regarding cooperation agreements.
  • QA agencies that have experience with the European Approach should communicate their lessons learned to colleagues in the field and share the experience with ministries.
  • Ministries need to follow up with the Yerevan agreement and integrate the European Approach into national legislation and make sure that results taken are accepted by competent authorities/bodies.
  • Ministries should take the European Approach into account when discussing/developing national strategies regarding internationalisation.
  • Joint programmes should not be considered a mass phenomenon, therefore pioneering flexible pathways regarding quality assurance and legal aspects should be allowed.