The Holy See’s Agency for the Evaluation and Promotion of Quality in Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties (AVEPRO)
The review will evaluate the way in which and to what extent the Holy See’s Agency for the Evaluation and Promotion of Quality in Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties (AVEPRO) 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 in June/July 2020.
Background and context
The Holy See’s Agency for the Evaluation and Promotion of Quality in Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties (AVEPRO) was established on 19 September 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI. The idea of creating an Agency came from the Holy See’s adhesion to the Bologna Process in 2003. The aim was to strengthen the focus on academic quality through the implementation of new tools and procedures suited to current needs. Moreover, as encouraged by the Bologna Process and subsequently by the establishment of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), the Agency cooperates with Institutions as part of a common effort to harmonize the various higher education systems.
The Agency is the QA authority for 203 Ecclesiastical Faculties located in Europe and other 78 in the rest of the world (updated 2018), without mentioning other numerous institutions, incorporated, aggregated or affiliated to those Universities or Faculties. Moreover, the Statute of the Agency (art. 4 § 2), foresees that “For any specific exigencies, the Agency, with the consent of the Congregation for Catholic Education, can implement forms of cooperation with other Institutions in order to respond to the demands of different countries or geographical areas”. This offers to Catholic Universities, for example, the opportunity (under specific and motivated circumstances) to undergo the evaluation following AVEPRO’s model and guidelines.
AVEPRO’s mission is to promote and develop a culture of quality within the academic institutions that depend directly on the Holy See and ensure they possess internationally valid quality criteria, as established by the Bologna Process.
AVEPRO’s activities are regulated by the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium (8 December 2018) and it conforms to the European Standards and Guidelines , as well as other international agreements concerning rules and procedures for the evaluation of quality in higher education.
Three are the key features of AVEPRO:
- it is an Agency that has to deal with international and universal dimension because of its nature. All Faculties award the same kind of degrees under the direct authority and in the name of the Holy See which has signed and ratified the four regional/continental Conventions for recognition of UNESCO. Thus these academic degrees are recognized in most countries of the world;
- in general terms it has to deal with a specific/sectorial branch of knowledge and science and subsequently with a limited number of university disciplines or fields of study. Among those, the “traditional” and most frequent are Theology, Philosophy and Canon Law. In more recent times other (specialized) Faculties have been or can be canonically erected, according to the needs of the Church;
- its mission is partially devoted to the evaluation of Academic Institutions but a consistent part of its activities are aimed at promoting Quality Culture in the frame of the Higher Education System of the Holy See.
AVEPRO has been a member of ENQA since 2014 and is applying for renewal of membership in ENQA.
This review, will evaluate the way in which and to what extent AVEPRO fulfils the requirements of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG). Consequently, the review will provide information to the ENQA Board to aid its consideration of whether membership of AVEPRO should be reconfirmed.
The review panel is not expected, however, to make any judgements as regards granting membership.
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)
- Ronny Heintze, Commissioner for International Affairs, AQAS e.V., Germany – Secretary, quality assurance professional (ENQA nominee)
- Hannele Niemi, Professor of Education, University of Helsinki, Finland – Academic (EUA nominee)
- Matthew Kitching, Membership Services Manager and Postgraduate Student, Bucks Students’ Union and Heriot-Watt University, United Kingdom – Student (ESU nominee, member of the European Students’ Union Quality Assurance Student Experts Pool)