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Peter Williams Former Chief Executive, The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, Former President, ENQA.

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Presentation on theme: "Peter Williams Former Chief Executive, The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, Former President, ENQA."— Presentation transcript:

1 Peter Williams Former Chief Executive, The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, Former President, ENQA

2 European HE Qualifications frameworks Lisbon Recognition Convention European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) European Register of Quality Assurance Agencies (EQAR) European Diploma Supplement (DS) European Standards and Guidelines for QA in HE


4  Commissioned at the Berlin ministerial meeting September 2003  From the Berlin communiqué:  Ministers call upon ENQA through its members, in co- operation with the EUA, EURASHE and ESIB, to develop an agreed set of standards, procedures and guidelines on quality assurance, to explore ways of ensuring an adequate peer review system for quality assurance and/or accreditation agencies or bodies, and to report back through the Follow-up Group to Ministers in 2005.  16 month development process  Accepted and adopted at the Bergen meeting May 2005

5  ENQA )  EUA (European Universities Association) ) The ‘E4’  EURASHE (Association of non-university HEIs) ) Group  ESIB (now ESU) The European Students’ Union )  European Commission

6  Two parts  set of standards, procedures and guidelines (SPG) on quality assurance  peer review system for quality assurance and/or accreditation agencies  Two working groups  SPG working group  Agency review working group

7  Six members from QA agencies in  Bulgaria  Denmark  France  Germany  Ireland  Sweden  UK (chair)

8  Consultant appointed Spring 2004  Brief to identify common features of quality assurance in Europe  Principles-based: not to be prescriptive or operational  Lukewarm response: more rules requested: ‘tell us what we should be doing!’  Back to the drawing board (Autumn 2004)

9  Deadline for finished ESG – end January 2005  Revised ESG redrafted over Christmas  Redraft discussed and approved by Working Group  Redraft shown to E4  E4 (with some new members) discusses and accepts redraft, January 2005  Ministers accept and adopt ESG, May 2005


11 European Standards and Guidelines (ESG)  3 parts:  Internal quality assurance  External quality assurance  Peer review of quality assurance agencies

12  ‘Standards’ in this context are not meant to imply ‘standardisation’ or ‘requirements’  ‘Standards’ are statements of basic good practice; they are short and general  ‘Guidelines’ are meant as illustrations of the standards in action; they provide additional information and explain why the standards are important

13  to encourage the development of higher education institutions which foster vibrant intellectual and educational achievement;  to provide a source of assistance and guidance to higher education institutions and other relevant agencies in developing their own culture of quality assurance;  to inform and raise the expectations of higher education institutions, students, employers and other stakeholders about the processes and outcomes of higher education;  to contribute to a common frame of reference for the provision of higher education and the assurance of quality within the EHEA.

14  Generic, not specific, standards and guidelines  A view of what should be done, not how it should be done  A source of assistance and guidance

15  Prescriptive  A checklist  A compendium of detailed procedures  A European quality assurance system

16  Development of quality culture  The language of the ESG  Distrust of external control  Formalisation of quality assurance systems  Need to change, especially:  Student assessment (including comparability, consistency and fairness)  Information systems  QA of teachers

17  The language of the ESG  Clarity of purpose  Professionalism of expert panels  Resistance by HEIs to external ‘control’  Use of students  Reporting  Independence

18  Organic development or external imposition?  Support or hindrance for autonomy and ‘quality culture’?  Total compliance or acceptable variations?  Consequences of 47 local interpretations?  How to limit the burden on institutions?  Deadline 2010 –gone!

19  ‘It must be emphasised that the report is no more than a first step in what is likely to be a long and possibly arduous route to the establishment of a widely shared set of underpinning values, expectations and good practice in relation to quality and its assurance, by institutions and agencies across the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). What has been set in motion by the Berlin mandate will need to be developed further if it is to provide the fully functioning European dimension of quality assurance for the EHEA.’

20  ‘The possibility of rapid implementation of certain of the proposals of this report should not be taken to mean that the task of embedding the rest of them will be easy. It will take longer for the internal and external quality assurance standards to be widely adopted by institutions and agencies, because their acceptance will depend on a willingness to change and develop on the part of signatory states with long established and powerful higher education systems. …the standards for external quality assurance and for quality assurance agencies themselves will require all participants, and especially the agencies, to look very carefully at themselves and to measure their practices against the European expectation’.


22  Most countries now have quality assurance or accreditation agencies  Mixture of programme accreditation, institutional accreditation, and non-accrediting external quality assurance reviews  Some countries are moving/have moved from programme focus to institutional focus  Some moving the other way  ESG have become very influential in Europe and beyond

23  ESG have frequently been treated as ‘tablets of stone’, not consultation document  Some countries have enshrined ESG in law  Compliance is generally expected  Translations (13, including two in Albanian) make local interpretations inevitable  ENQA and EQAR (European Register of QA agencies) use ESG as membership criteria  Review process under way  Revision process hard to envisage

24  Common concepts?  Common language?  Shared understandings and values?  A European HE quality culture?  Qualifications recognition?  Comparable academic standards?  Useful information for stakeholders?  Improved academic professionalism?  Better higher education??

25  because higher education is a complex business  because universities and their staff need help to face an uncertain and ever- demanding working environment  because universities are not likely to survive much longer as ‘secret gardens’ or ‘seminaries’ to train novices for the academic ‘priesthood’  because universities are becoming large service organisations

26  because the ‘culture of deference’ is in decline  because demand for higher education is expanding world-wide  because higher education is becoming a competitive business  because higher education is an expensive claim on public and/or private purses  because professional and institutional reputations will depend upon it

27  what are you trying to do?  why are you doing it?  how are you going to do it?  why will that be the best way to do it?  how will you know it works?  how will you be able to improve it?

28 Quality... It’s a long, hard climb...

29 ...but the view from the top is fantastic!

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