Building trust and enhancement: from information to evidence

The 2021 European Quality Assurance Forum (EQAF) has taken place online on 18 and 19 November.

The Forum, entitled “Building trust and enhancement: from information to evidence”,  combined online sessions about European policies and trends, research, and practical case examples related to the Forum theme and more generally about current developments in quality assurance.

To promote trust and serve as a basis for informed decision making and quality enhancement, quality assurance needs to be evidence-based. The amount of data on higher education and the performance of higher education institutions has increased in recent years and its nature is changing partly due to digitalisation. This makes it increasingly important to determine which information is meaningful and relevant for stakeholders in higher education, hence worth serving as evidence for robust quality assurance processes.

The Forum addressed questions such as how to ensure an appropriate balance between qualitative and quantitative data and diverse sources of information. It will also focus on how to analyse and interpret the data, as well as how to ensure that it is used to enhance quality and promote trust. Notably, the 2021 EQAF offered an occasion to analyse how to make the best out of the opportunities offered by digitalisation while avoiding pitfalls. The Forum explored the evidence used in external and internal quality assurance and how to improve its use and impact.

True to the EQAF tradition, this year’s Forum was organised using an event platform that provided participants with opportunities for networking, also outside the formal programme, and will facilitate audience interaction.  

The Forum was of interest to rectors and vice-rectors responsible for quality assurance, quality assurance officers in higher education institutions, students, quality assurance agency staff and researchers working in higher education or in the quality assurance field.

For updates, please follow @EQAF and #EQAF on Twitter and/or join the LinkedIn group “European Quality Assurance Forum (EQAF)”.



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The event booklet with more information about the speakers and their contributions is now available.

Wednesday, 17 November

Pre-Forum session
16.00-18.00                This separate session was organised by the European Students’ Union (ESU).

Thursday, 18 November

13.30-14.15                  Opening Session - The value of evidence

This session explored what constitutes useful and meaningful evidence in quality assurance, what big data, learning analytics, AI and open data mean for quality assurance, the link between evidence and quality, and the implications for measuring quality in higher education.

  • Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive, Office for Students, the UK
  • Dragan Gasevic, Professor, Monash University, Australia
  • Chair: Jens Jungblut, EQAF Programme Committee

14.45-15.30                 Discussion Starter Session

a) Indicators in learning and teaching and the social dimension 

b) Quality assurance and academic integrity 

  • Gareth Crossman, Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), the UK
  • Karena Maguire, Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI)
  • Chair: Pegi Pavletić, EQAF Programme Committee

c) The road to meaningful standards and criteria in higher education institutions 

  • Esther Adot Giménez, AQU Catalunya, Spain
  • Sonja Mikeska, Münster University of Applied Sciences, Wandelwerk, Germany
  • Chair: Gea van Zutven, EQAF Programme Committee

16.00-17.00                  Paper Session 

a) Accreditation on the move

b) Quality assurance of joint programmes 

Friday, 19 November

09.30-10.30                Paper Session

c) Trust and impact in higher education 

 d) Strengthening external engagement

Discussion Starter Session  

 d) Data and conversations: opposites or complementary?

  • Gabriel Heinrichs, University of Groningen/Avans University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands
  • Ailsa Crum, Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), the UK
  • Chair: Ronny Heintze, EQAF Programme Committee

 e) Students – a rich source in quality assurance 

  • Renáta Hall, Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education
  • Adrian Zontek, SGH Warsaw School of Economics, Poland
  • Chair: Geneviève Le Fort, EQAF Programme Committee

 f) The potential of digitalisation in data management 

  • Tinatin Gabrichidze, Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Georgia
  • Deniz Kozanoglu, Yeditepe University and GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne Research Center (CNRS)
  • Chair: Ruben Janssens, European Students' Union                                   

             Closing Session - Building trust through quality assurance

This session discussed what makes quality assurance and its results more convincing to and reliable for diverse stakeholders and how evidence-based quality assurance contributes to building trust.

  • Vanessa Debiais-Sainton, Head of Higher Education Unit, DG Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, European Commission
  • Mirek Pospisil, Senior Lead Manager EU Public Policy and Government Affairs, LinkedIn
  • Martina Darmanin, President of the European Students' Union
  • Chair: Karl Dittrich, President of the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education

The event platform will remain open and accessible for two weeks after the event, until 3 December. 

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