EC adopts proposal for Erasmus 2021-2027

The European Commission’s proposal for the next generation of the Erasmus programme was released on 30 May. For the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the European Commission is proposing to increase the Erasmus budget to €30 billion (double the amount of the current Erasmus+ programme). The proposal aims to make the programme more effective by supporting key political objectives such as building a European Education Area by 2025, empowering young people, and promoting a European identity through youth, education, and culture policies.

The proposed programme aims to be more accessible, supporting mobility and learning opportunities for 12 million people – three times as many as the 4 million people participating in the current programme. It will also focus on promoting forward-looking study fields such as renewable energy, climate change, environmental engineering, artificial intelligence, and design.

The Bologna Process Implementation Report provides update on EHEA

The Bologna Process Implementation Report presents a detailed picture on how the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) has been moving forward since the Ministerial Conference of 2015 held in Yerevan, Armenia. The report describes the evolution of the key policy areas identified in the Yerevan Communiqué and addresses the key commitments underpinning the EHEA: implementation of the three-cycle degree structure, recognition of qualifications, and quality assurance.

Concerning quality assurance, development across the EHEA is reported. As one of the highlights, the implementation of the revised Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the Higher Education Area (ESG 2015) in different national contexts has been largely achieved since 2015. At the same time, there are still areas where further attention is necessary. For instance, some countries still need to focus on ensuring that students are fully involved in all quality assurance processes as equal partners.

Produced for the European Ministerial Conference in Paris on 24-25 May 2018, the report is the result of collaboration between the Bologna Follow-up Group (BFUG), Eurostat, Eurostudent, and Eurydice. The European University Association (EUA), the European Students Union (ESU), and ENQA also contributed to the contents of the report.

EHEA ministers meet in Paris

On 24 and 25 May 2018, the 48 countries of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) gathered in Paris for the Bologna Process Ministerial Conference. The Conference was preceded by a celebratory event on 23 May at La Sorbonne to mark the 30th anniversary of the Magna Charta Universitatum, the 20th anniversary of the Sorbonne Declaration, and the 10th anniversary of the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR).

On 25 May, the ministers adopted the Paris Communiqué, which sets the priorities for the next two years until the Ministerial Conference in Rome in 2020. The Paris Communique’ reitirates the three key commitments of recognition, the three-cycle system, and quality assurance, and as a novelty this year, sets up a peer support system to facilitate and speed up implementation across the EHEA. Also, the communique’ gives important focus on teaching and learning, including the impact of digitalisation.

ENQA issued a message to the ministers attending the conference. The message provides an overview of the main achievements in external quality assurance since 2015 and ENQA’s contribution to the Bologna Process. Importantly, it also contains recommendations to the national authorities, in view of supporting ESG-compliant external quality assurance across Europe.

Recognition of professional qualifications under the Hong Kong Qualifications Framework

As a result of a successful pilot, Hong Kong’s Education Bureau plans to recognise professional qualifications attained by assessment (as opposed to learning programmes) beginning in September 2018. In order to achieve this, on recommendation of the Education Bureau, the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications (HKCAAVQ) will conduct accreditation of professional bodies, during which time they shall demonstrate that they have: a close affiliation with the industry/profession, broad representation and support of the industry/profession, extensive membership coverage of practitioners in the industry/profession, and a history of contribution to the industry/profession.

Upon successful accreditation, the professional body may be appointed as an “assessment agency”, thereby allowing selected professional qualifications to be recognised under the Hong Kong Qualifications Framework (HKQF) and to be registered in the Hong Kong Qualifications Register.

AQU Catalunya publishes methodology for the accreditation of doctoral programmes

AQU Catalunya has recently published its methodology for the accreditation of doctoral (PhD) programmes. The guidebook includes the dimensions and criteria for review, the relevant indicators, and recommendations for drafting the self-assessment report. The agency collaborated with universities in Catalonia to produce the guidebook, for which an open consultation was held during July and October 2017.

During a review of a doctoral programme, the following aspects are sought: compliance with legal requirements and Spain’s qualifications framework; adequate resources for teaching staff, learning support services, infrastructure, and physical resources; conformity of grades with relevant and appropriate procedures for the assessment of student learning outcomes; matching of the academic background of doctoral degree holders with characteristics of doctoral/PhD students and the potential of the labour market; and internal quality assurance mechanisms for ensuring regular analysis of the learning process and continuous improvement of the training of students.

Recommendations for QA agencies implementing the QACHE Toolkit

In 2016, ENQA published the main outcome of the Erasmus Mundus-funded project “Quality Assurance of Cross-Border Higher Education” (QACHE), called Cooperation in Cross Border Higher Education: A Toolkit for Quality Assurance Agencies. The QACHE Toolkit, directed at QA agencies and their networks, aims to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the quality assurance of cross-border higher education (CBHE) by articulating, through practical advice, initiatives and good practices that QA agencies could consider adopting to strengthen cooperation. However, this advice is accompanied by a proviso – that its possible implementation, and the precise extent and way in which QA agencies may be able to cooperate in quality assuring CBHE, will depend on the different national and regional quality assurance and regulatory contexts within which they operate.

It is with this proviso in mind that the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA, United Kingdom), which led the development of the QACHE Toolkit, has undertaken, with INQAAHE’s support, research on the concrete obstacles and limits to possible inter-agency cooperation. The aim of this research was to help inter-agency cooperation by identifying the concrete ways in which agencies can, or cannot, cooperate across borders. The research drew upon the findings of the QACHE project and the responses to a survey administered to QAA’s partner agencies in key sending and receiving countries for CBHE.

On the basis of the responses provided by QAA’s partner agencies, it is possible to extract two key strategic recommendations for QA agencies to help them in their efforts to implement the advice contained in the QACHE Toolkit:
1. Adopt a strategic approach and long-term commitment to partnership building. Recognising the critical importance of building reciprocal trust, and that building trust takes time and resources, agencies are recommended to adopt a strategic approach and long-term commitment to partnership building.
2. Engage with all other key stakeholders in CBHE provision. Recognising that QA agencies do not operate in isolation, but within broader regulatory systems involving a variety of other stakeholders, it will be crucial for QA agencies to engage with stakeholders in order to be able to develop more efficient and effective ways to quality assure CBHE. In particular, QA agencies are recommended to engage closely with government, higher education providers, students, and other sector bodies, including professional bodies, in addition to counterpart quality assurance bodies.
Further details of the project and its findings have been published and are available here.

ESU elects new Presidency and Executive Committee

The 74th Board Meeting of the European Students’ Union (ESU) took place in Bled, Slovenia, from 22 to 28 April 2018. On this occasion, Adam Gajek (Poland) was elected as ESU President, along with Katrina Koppel (Estonia) and Robert Napier (Malta), who were elected as ESU’s two Vice Presidents. For the positions of the seven Executive Committee members, the following student representatives were elected: Gohar Hovhannisyan (Armenia), Monika Skadborg (Denmark), Sebastian Berger (Austria), Daniel Altman (Israel), Urša Leban (Slovenia), Yulia Dobyshuk (Belarus), and João Pedro Estêvão Martins (Portugal).

Over 100 delegates from 46 national unions of students from 39 countries participated in the meeting. The newly elected leadership represents more than 15 million students in Europe. Their one-year mandate began on 1 July 2018.

ENQA represented on the ETER Advisory Board

ENQA was recently invited to join the Advisory Board of the European Tertiary Education Register (ETER), a database that collects information on European higher education institutions. ETER provides data on the number of students, graduates, international doctorates, staff, fields of study, income, and expenditures, as well as descriptive information on the characteristics of the institutions. Currently, the register includes a core set of statistical data on 2,764 institutions in 36 countries, allowing for comparability. ETER is managed by the Directorate General for Education and Culture of the European Commission, in collaboration with the Directorate General for Research and Innovation, EUROSTAT, and the National Statistical Authorities of the participating countries.

As ETER aims to be a joint resource for policy-makers, administrators, and scholars, most of the data can be freely downloaded from the project website and reused for analytical purposes. A small part of the data is available for research purposes only.

ENQA helps bring quality dual education programmes to Asia

ENQA is a partner in the EU-funded Towards Excellence in Engineering Curricula for Dual Education (TEEDE) project. Within the TEEDE framework, European partner universities are sharing their experiences implementing dual education programmes (sometimes called alternance training, where students alternate periods at school and on the job) with higher education institutions in Cambodia, China, India, and Russia. While ENQA is responsible for carrying out the project’s quality plan, it is also responding to a need from non-European partners, as they develop and pilot dual education programmes in the own institutions, to share recommendations and good practices relating to the quality and quality assurance of dual education programmes in Europe.

Of the information shared already, partners have found the Commission des titres d’ingénieur’s (CTI) standards and guidelines (called “références et orientations”) helpful, as well as examples of evidence that are collected during CTI’s external reviews. The Quality Code’s indicators of sound practice for managing higher education provision with others (Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, United Kingdom) and the European Network for Accreditation of Engineering Education (ENAEE) EUR-ACE® Framework Standards and Guidelines have also been useful. ENQA invites institutions and agencies with experience in dual education programmes to share their good quality practices for further dissemination to TEEDE project partners.

Registration is open for EQAF 2018

Registration is now open for the 2018 European Quality Assurance Forum (EQAF), which will take place on 15-17 November 2018 in Vienna, hosted by WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business) and AQ Austria. The deadline for the early-bird registration fee is 1 October 2018, after which late registration fees will apply. As capacity is limited, registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

This year’s forum will explore how institutions and QA agencies can build quality assurance systems that encompass a broad range of activities, including learning and teaching, research, governance and administration, and service to society. For those who would like to contribute to the programme by presenting a paper or delivering a workshop, the call for contributions (available on the event webpage) is open until 24 July 2018. For each selected contribution, one author or facilitator will receive a reduced fee to attend the Forum.