Netherlands to change their legislation to provide full degrees in cross-border higher education

Universities in the Netherlands may soon be able to offer full degree programmes overseas. If the bill passes through the Dutch Senate as anticipated, an administrative decree will follow in the summer of 2017, laying out more details such as accreditation procedures. Until now, Dutch higher education institutions have been able to offer partial degrees overseas, but students must spend at least one-fourth of their studies in the Netherlands, even for international joint or double degree programmes. In these cases, students pay tuition fees to both the Dutch university and its foreign partner institution, resulting in considerable expense for the students. Issues such as these are expected to be resolved with the new legislation.

Overall, it is expected that the bill will help Dutch institutions establish more flexible and attractive joint degree partnerships, to increase the visibility, and to strengthen the international competitive position of Dutch education. If the legislation passes through the Senate, the government will vote on the proposal, and it will take effect in September 2017. More information is available here.

Eurydice report on support mechanisms for evidence-based policy-making in education

Eurydice, the Education Information Network in Europe, published in January a report describing the mechanisms and practices that support evidence-based policy-making in the education sector in Europe. The report provides a mapping comparing institutions and practices in evidence-based policy-making, as well as the accessibility, and mediation, of evidence. The report also presents more detailed information for each of the countries included in the report, including specific examples of the use of evidence in policy formulation.

The information – provided by Eurydice National Units – covers the 28 EU member states as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, and Turkey.

Public consultation launched for Review of 2006 Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning

The European Commission has launched a public consultation regarding the Review of the 2006 Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning. The review will seek to determine which skills and competences young people need to acquire to succeed in the job market and in life, with a focus on entrepreneurship education. The objective is to develop a shared understanding of key competences needed (from reading and writing, horizontal skills, to digital competences) and to further foster their introduction in education and training curricula. The revision will also provide support for better developing and assessing these skills.

The Recommendation on Key Competences contributes to the development of quality education and training tailored to the needs of European societies and will now be reviewed to reflect political, social, and technological developments since 2006. The review was announced in the Commission’s New Skills Agenda for Europe adopted in June 2016. The consultation is open until 19 May 2017.

European Commission launches public consultation on Erasmus+

The European Commission has opened its public consultation aimed at supporting the mid-term evaluation of the Erasmus+ programme (including activities undertaken during the period of 2014-2016). The main objective is to gather comments and perspectives from stakeholders and the public on the programme’s relevance and effectiveness and on the efficiency of its implementation. It also seeks feedback on the coherence of the programme and its added value in relation to current challenges and opportunities. Views from those who have not yet participated in any specific surveys related to this evaluation are particularly welcome.

Input gathered from the consultation will feed into the ongoing mid-term evaluation and will serve to design the Erasmus+ successor programme in 2020. The results will be analysed and combined with other evidence in the evaluation report, which the European Commission will adopt by the end of 2017. The consultation is hosted in an online questionnaire which remains open until 31 May 2017.

Nora Skaburskienė wins competition for SKVC Director

A competition for the Director’s vacancy at SKVC announced by the Ministry of Education and Science was won by Mrs. Nora Skaburskienė, who temporarily held SKVC Director’s position. Mrs. Skaburskienė worked as Acting Director of SKVC from 2013 and from 2009-2010. Earlier, she held the position of SKVC Deputy Director and worked as Head of SKVC’s Institutional Review Division. Mrs. Skaburskienė started her SKVC career in 2001 as a Senior Specialist.

Mrs. Skaburskienė has been a member of the CEENQA Board since 2014, and in 2016 she was elected to the Board of ENQA.

IFLA Europe involved in two projects to improve quality for landscape architecture programmes

IFLA Europe (the International Federation of Landscape Architects) joined universities from Estonia, Poland, Hungary, the Netherlands, and Lithuania to launch a project, called EU-LAND21 and supported by the EU, aimed at trans-European recognition of the landscape architecture profession. EU-land21 will respond to the increased need for recognised landscape architect training in Europe and to elevate the increased quality of landscape architect education in partner countries by offering a sustainable tool for the continuous upgrade and modernisation of the study process. As a result, an international landscape education will encourage transnational mobility and greater employability.

IFLA Europe’s School Recognition Project (SRP) is an ongoing project which grants a ”quality mark” following the successful assessment of schools and institutions providing landscape architectural education. The regularisation of the rules governing the education requirements form a focus of this project, which is aimed at the development of an IFLA Europe accreditation body.

HKCAAVQ launches electronic knowledgebase on good QA practices

The Hong Kong Council for Accreditations of Academic and Vocational Qualifications (HKCAAVQ) has launched an electronic knowledgebase, the Quality Assurance Online Knowledgebase (QAOK) which contains examples of good practices in quality assurance drawn from the local and international post-secondary education sector. Its primary aim is to serve as an information portal for institutions seeking to improve their internal quality assurance processes. The QAOK covers a wide spectrum of topics including institutional governance, programme development, and student support services, and it will be updated regularly as new good practices are identified.

The development of QAOK has been funded through the Hong Kong government’s Quality Enhancement Support Scheme (QESS).

UKÄ develops system for evaluating and developing the quality of higher education

UKÄ (Swedish Higher Education Authority), has developed a new system for evaluating and developing the quality of higher education, which will be used for the first time in 2017 and then for the next six years. The ESG (Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area) served as an important starting point in the development of the model, along with national regulation, and extensive dialogue with higher education institutions (HEIs), students, and the labour market further contributed to its development. 

The model continues to focus on outcomes but also on quality assurance procedures at HEIs. It consists of four components: institutional reviews, programme evaluations (which includes third-cylce programmes), appraisal of applications for degree awarding powers, and thematic evaluations.

Legislative amendment causes changes to Slovenian QA agency’s activities

The Slovenian higher education system is undergoing changes in response to a legislation amendment adopted in December 2016. The changes will shift the focus from oversight and inspection to external institutional evaluation/accreditation, with the emphasis on assessing a higher education institution (HEI) as a whole, while evaluating and auditing only selected study programmes and collecting appropriate and fit-for-purpose information from annual self-evaluation reports. Evaluation visits to HEIs (and faculties) are compulsory and carried out in two phases – with an initial visit and then a follow-up visit after three months. The validity of accreditation is reduced from seven to five years.

Owing to the amended legislation, the activities of the Slovenian Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (SQAA) will to a greater extent focus on counselling, providing system analyses and research, and policy-making.  Counselling will pay special attention to enhancing the quality of study programmes, research, and cover the HEI as a whole entity. To compensate for these developments, a reinforced mechanism of sample (cluster) audits and extraordinary audits of study programmes, as well as follow-up procedures within institutional accreditations, will be further designed and implemented by SQAA. The reports of sample audits will be used solely for improving the quality culture and quality assurance/enhancement procedures at the HEIs.

EUA launches TRENDS 2018 survey

EUA invites all European higher education institutions to participate in the TRENDS 2018 survey. The eighth in the series, the EUA flagship initiative aims to map developments in Europe’s changing higher education landscape. TRENDS 2018 will focus on learning and teaching (L&T) developments in European higher education institutions. The survey will explore issues such as institutional strategies and policies, L&T practices, and staff development and teaching enhancement, whilst ensuring sufficient continuity with the previous Trends 2015 report to allow for a consistent analysis of key European Higher Education Area developments.

The results of the survey will feed into the TRENDS 2018 report, which EUA will submit to the 2018 Bologna Ministerial Conference and use in various policy and practice contexts. All interested institutions are encouraged to respond, as data and analysis will be crucial for the debate on future development of learning and teaching. There should be only one response per institution, for which a senior representative should take responsibility. The deadline is 12 May 2017. For further information, please contact