Quality assurance has been one of EUA’s key areas of activity since the Association was established. As the voice of Europe’s universities, EUA seeks to ensure that the views of the university sector are taken into account in European and national-level policy discussions on internal and external quality assurance. It also supports its members in developing internal quality systems and aims to promote institutional quality cultures.
With this objective, EUA carries out a variety of activities that are underpinned by the principle that the main responsibility for quality assurance lies within higher education institutions.
EUA is a recognised voice in the quality assurance debate in Europe. At the national level, the Association maintains a continuous dialogue with its collective members, the national rectors’ conferences, about developments taking place in their countries’ systems.
At the European level, a major part of EUA’s policy work related to quality assurance is done in cooperation with the E4 Group, consisting of EUA, ENQA, ESU and EURASHE.
Notably, this partnership worked in cooperation with other stakeholders (Education International, Business Europe and the European Quality Assurance Register) to develop a revised version of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG), which were approved at the Bologna Ministerial meeting in 2015. The E4 also developed the original version of the ESG in 2005, and implementing quality assurance in line with the ESG is one of the key commitments of the Bologna Process.
The E4 Group organisations are also founding members of the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR). This is a public register of quality assurance agencies that substantially comply with the ESG. EQAR provides clear and reliable information on credible and legitimate quality assurance agencies operating in the EHEA. EUA is a member of its Executive Board and of the General Assembly. It also nominates two members of the Register Committee.
EUA is active internationally to contribute the European perspective to quality assurance discussions on the global level. Furthermore, the Association supports the development of quality assurance frameworks outside Europe, for example in Asia (SHARE), Africa (HAQAA) and the United States.
EUA has taken the lead in developing the capacity of higher education institutions to create internal quality processes and foster quality cultures and is an acknowledged expert on these topics.
The Association has worked with its members to gather information and share experience in order to empower universities to fulfil their responsibility for quality assurance. As a result, EUA has produced an extensive set of materials on these matters, most notably the “Quality culture in European universities: a bottom up approach”, “Examining Quality Culture II: process and tools – participation, ownership and bureaucracy”, and “EUREQA Moments! Top tips for internal quality assurance”.
In addition, EUA’s Institutional Evaluation Programme (IEP) has been running since 1994 and offers enhancement-led institutional peer reviews across Europe and beyond. The Programme supports universities in developing their strategic leadership and capacity to manage change by evaluating them in the context of their own mission and goals.
EUA has worked on the topic of rankings through a number of projects and activities aimed better understanding the role and impact that rankings play for its members and informing stakeholders of the advantages and disadvantages of the various approaches. EUA continues to monitor ongoing initiatives and participate in the debate around rankings at the European and international level.
In 2014, EUA examined how European universities have responded to the use of rankings. The results were presented in the report “Rankings in institutional strategies and processes: Impact or illusion”.
In addition, EUA produced two reviews of global university rankings (first report in 2011 and second report in 2013). These reports analysed the methodologies used in the main international rankings and provided EUA members and the higher education community with information on how to interpret the results of these rankings.
The European Quality Assurance Forum (EQAF) has been co-organised by ENQA, ESU, EUA and EURASHE since 2006 and has become the largest annual gathering of the European higher education quality assurance community and a flagship activity in this field.
EQAF bridges national boundaries by facilitating a Europe-wide discussion on current trends and forthcoming developments in research, policy and practice. EQAF provides a unique opportunity to share experiences and network with a wide range of stakeholders, including representatives from higher education institutions and quality assurance agencies, students, researchers and policy makers from across Europe and beyond.
All papers presented at EQAF are available in the EUA publication database.
Improving the quality of teaching and learning has been at the heart of the Bologna Process reforms and continues to be of crucial importance for the further implementation of these reforms. The growth in interest in rankings, as well as recent student protests further illustrate the need for universities to reiterate their continued commitment to improving the quality of teaching and learning. Therefore EUA’s policy position has been updated to take account of recent developments and to provide a solid basis for policy work and advocacy in the years to come.
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