Work programme of the Bologna Follow-Up Group 2007-2009
Quality assurance in universities and higher education institutions in Europe
Conference organized by France as President of the European Union on Quality assurance in universities and higher education institutions in Europe.
Proposed topics and reasons why
Guaranteeing quality of higher education in Europe has been developing on pragmatic lines based on the experience of stakeholders: higher education insitutions, agencies, employers, students. These guarantees have been built on the successes and limits of initiatives implemented in the different national quality systems. The concepts of these guarantees have been fine-tuned by the consensus sought by the parties commissioned by the ministries in charge of higher education.
Hence, the 2003 Berlin Communiqué forged a strong link between the autonomy of institutions and their duty for public accountability on the way they ensure the quality of their activities. This same communiqué invited countries to procure quality frameworks that incorporate a level of external assessment and accreditation of programmes and institutions. In 2005, in Bergen, ministers then adopted a framework for the development of the guarantee of quality in higher education. It is set out in the ‘European Standards And Guidelines (ESG)’ and specifies the respective responsibilities of internal quality-guarantee programmes of institutions and of those entrusted with implementing external assessors. Lastly, in 2007, in London, it was decided to establish the European register of assessment and accreditation agencies, with a view to organising a European higher education area (EHEA) by ensuring the quality of institutions provided by external assessors. This has consolidated trust and confidence within this European area, facilitating mobility and protecting Europe from potential derailments of an uncontrolled accreditation market.
Today, it would seem useful, in the light of various national experiences, to examine the respective purposes of internal, quality-guarantee programmes implemented by institutions and the external programmes implemented by agencies, as well as the nature of the link to be established between assessment of higher education and assessment of research for institutions seeking to define themselves uppermost by this double, linked activity.
- Topic 1: Assessing the link between the institutional policies and the quality of programmes within higher education institutions.
- Topic 2: Establishing the links between the assessment of courses and research assessment.
A series of recommendations, both for the meeting of the EU Council of Ministers, in November 2008, and for the ministerial conference in Louvain/Leuwen, in April 2009, will come out of this work. The guest speaker, Mr Michael DAXNER, will clarify them in order to have them validated, at the Conference, with a view to presenting them, when the Council of Ministers next meets in November.
The conference makes all representatives aware of the necessity of ensuring quality, in order to:
- put in place the conditions to facilitate student and teacher mobility,
- have elements of mutual recognition for the understanding of curricula and qualifications,
- avoid fake qualifications (or so-called ‘degree-mills’), which would invalidate what precedes...