Work programme of the Bologna Follow-Up Group 2003-2005
European cooperation in quality assurance
In Berlin, Ministers called upon ENQA, in cooperation with the EUA, EURASHE and ESIB, to develop an agreed set of standards, procedures and guidelines on quality assurance and a peer review system for quality assurance bodies.
In the Berlin Communiqué, Ministers committed themselves to supporting further development of quality assurance at institutional, national and European level. They stressed the need to develop mutually shared criteria and methodologies for quality assurance. They also stressed that the primary responsibility for quality assurance in higher education lies with each institution itself and that this provides the basis for real accountability of the academic system within the national quality framework.
Ministers agreed that by 2005 national quality assurance systems should include:
- A definition of the responsibilities of the bodies and institutions involved.
- Evaluation of programmes or institutions, including internal assessment, external review, participation of students and the publication of results.
- A system of accreditation, certification or comparable procedures.
- International participation, co-operation and networking.
At the European level, Ministers called upon ENQA through its members, in cooperation 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. Due account should be taken of the expertise of other quality assurance associations and networks.
The ENQA Report
The report from ENQA - the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education - was sent to the BFUG on 21 February 2005. The main results and recommendations of the report are:
- There will be European standards for internal and external quality assurance, and for external quality assurance agencies.
- European quality assurance agencies will be expected to submit themselves to a cyclical review within five years.
- There will be an emphasis on subsidiarity, with reviews being undertaken nationally where possible.
- A European register of quality assurance agencies will be established.
- A European Register Committee will act as a gatekeeper for the inclusion of agencies in the register.
- A European Consultative Forum for Quality Assurance in Higher Education will also be established.
A European Register and a European Register Committee
The report proposes that a European register of quality assurance agencies should be established and that a European Register Committee should act as a gatekeeper for the inclusion of agencies in the register. The register will make it easier to identify professional and credible agencies, thus providing useful information to national quality assurance agencies and to institutions.
The report assumes that the European Register Committee will decide on admissions to the European Register. The proposal is to establish a light, non-bureaucratic construction with nine members nominated by ENQA, EUA, EURASHE, ESIB and other organisations representing employers, unions and professional organisations plus government representatives. The members are assumed to act in an individual capacity and not as mandated representatives of the nominating organisations. It is proposed that ENQA will perform secretarial duties for the committee. The European Register Committee should as one of its first implementation tasks formalise the ownership of the register. It is further suggested that the Committee will establish an independent appeals system. Legal advice should be sought by the organisations proposing to establish the European Register Committee before the Committee is established.
Considerations by the Bologna Follow-up Group
In its March 2005 meeting the BFUG decided to advise Ministers that the proposed standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the EHEA and the proposed model for peer review of quality assurance agencies may be introduced and tried out on a national basis in the participating countries.
The BFUG also welcomed the establishment of a European Register of quality assurance agencies based on national review and asked ENQA to develop rules and regulations for such a register. The BFUG advised Ministers that the practicalities of implementation of the Register and the Register Committee may be further developed by ENQA in cooperation with EUA, EURASHE and ESIB. Ministers may underline the importance of cooperation between nationally recognised agencies with a view to enhancing the mutual recognition of accreditation or quality assurance decisions.
Source: General Report to the Bologna Follow-Up Group to the Conference of European Ministers Responsible for Higher Education - Bergen 19/20 May 2005
Bologna Process between Berlin and Bergen