This contribution presents an assessment of the de jure independence of Quality Assurance Agencies (QAAs) operating at the national level in the field of higher education and which are public in nature (or are commissioned by public authorities). Considering more than 40 countries in Europe and Latin America, we present a multidimensional index based on formal statements derived from agencies’ constitutive norms and regulations.
This de jure index includes three clusters: the first one takes into account the agency relation with political principals, measuring the provisions for shielding agency head and board members, and how accountable are agencies to the executive; the second one focuses on the social accountability dimension that agencies present; and the third one approaches the scope of responsibilities the agency is granted.
The paper discusses the methodology employed for the elaboration of QAAs’ independence index, as inspired by previous indexes prepared for the measurement of independence in regulatory agencies operating in fields such finance, utilities or social risks.
The aim of the new index is to integrate an assessment of the level autonomy of QAAs versus politicians, their accountability mechanisms to societal actors and their decision-making powers to provide a comprehensive measure of formal capabilities of agencies to act independently. Such an analysis will allow a better understanding of the role that these agencies have in higher education policy regimes across Latin America and Europe.
This paper was presented at EQAF and reflects the views of the named authors only.