In recent times e-learning in different forms has been integrated in a high percentage in the study offerings of HEIs in Europe. The quality assurance of this type of provision has become a concern both for HEIs and for QAAs. Considering this and the fact that a new version of the revised ESG was published in 2015, an ENQA’s working group on quality assurance of e-learning was established. The aim of the working group was to work on a set of considerations for quality assurance of e-learning provision taking as reference the ESG 2015, examining the applicability and relevance of the ESG.
Since 2009, Portuguese higher education institutions have been developing their own internal quality assurance systems and policies as a result of the reforms of higher education quality assurance in Europe and Portugal. This paper analyses how far Portuguese universities, within the remit of their internal quality assurance systems, define and employ mechanisms and procedures in order to assess the quality of their third mission activities. The analysis was conducted on documents submitted by institutions to the Portuguese quality assurance agency (A3ES) under the institutional evaluation process.
At a time in which different forms of online education provision are growing in popularity, it is important to bring the assessment of these provisions to the same level. The vast majority of higher education institutions offering e-learning still maintain face-to-face assessment since it is still considered the most reliable way to verify students’ identity and proctor their behaviour. Nonetheless, online universities are expressing their will to implement e-assessment in order to offer a fully comprehensive online education and traditional universities are increasingly adopting online methods to their habitual procedures. Consequently, quality assurance (QA) should also develop new processes in order to guarantee the confidence in these new forms of learning and assessing.
Since the establishment of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the EHEA (ESG) in 2005, student involvement in quality processes has been viewed as integral and become more widely adopted across Europe (HEA, 2016). The level of student involvement and engagement can, however, vary on a continuum from students being informed (low-impact) to having decision-making roles (high-impact) (ibid.).
The external quality audit in Austria encompasses a broad range of HEIs’ activities – alongside the basic duties, they include societal objectives which are supposed to be integrated into the internal quality management system of a higher education institution. This paper looks into the relevance of societal objectives in external quality assurance (QA) practice. The findings are based on an analysis of (1) QA agencies` procedure regulations and (2) audit reports on Austrian HEIs. In the first stage, we identify aspects of societal objectives found in the procedure regulations.
Even the most pioneering approaches to the student voice in quality can run the risk of over-dependence on a narrow perspective – one that is disproportionally full-time, on-campus and undergraduate. A major challenge for broadening the scope of quality assurance is to ensure that student engagement reflects the full experiences of an institution’s student profile.
The credential-space is currently seeing significant innovation, driven by twin priorities, namely the unbundling of learning of micro-learning, and the drive to digitise credentials as prioritised by the Bologna Digital Agenda and the EU’s Digital Education Action Plan. While traditionally students could depend on recognition of widely understood signals of experience and expertise such as university degrees, the same cannot be said for the creatures of MOOCs such as ‘nanodegrees’ and ‘specialisations’.
After having established an integrated QA system for teaching & learning, the University of Würzburg now focuses on quality assurance for its science support services of the central administration. The initiatives carried out by the administration usually require the change of structures or processes. Therefore, in the wake of a major support infrastructure project, the unit for quality management designed a support approach for organisational development for the central administration. The approach uses three main tools, namely institutional analysis, project management and process development which are now tested and implemented in nearly all initiatives carried out by the administration to upgrade its support services for teaching and learning, and research.
It is generally accepted in Europe that students should be involved in the external Quality Assurance (QA) of higher educations institutions. Requirements for involving students are stated in the ESG, but student involvement in a meaningful manner is easier said than done. In many countries, including Denmark, the solution has been to include student representatives on various councils and panels. However, five years ago, the Danish Accreditation Institution (AI) outlined a vision for a more long-term, dynamic relationship with students to enhance student involvement throughout our external QA activities. This vision gave birth to STAR, the Students' Accreditation Council, a network for Danish student organisations facilitated by AI.
The European Quality Assurance Register in Higher Education (EQAR) has developed DEQAR with the aim to contribute to the transparency of quality assurance in the European Higher Education Area. DEQAR provides easy access to external quality assurance reports and decisions on higher education institutions and their programmes by EQAR-registered agencies through a single portal. The public preview of DEQAR was launched in May 2018 and currently includes more than 4500 reports covering 807 higher education institutions in 37 countries.