The fifth European Quality Assurance Forum was co-organised by ENQA, ESU, EUA and EURASHE and supported by the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission. It was hosted by University Claude Bernard Lyon I, France, on 18 – 20, November 2010.

The 5th European Quality Assurance Forum for Higher Education brought together around 450 higher education stakeholders (from around 50 countries) to discuss the latest developments and trends in quality assurance.

This year’s edition, held at the University Claude Bernard Lyon I in France, focused on the theme “Building Bridges: making sense of QA in European, national and institutional contexts”. During three days of lively discussion, the relationship and interaction between European and national policy decisions and the institutional and agency level realities were discussed.

Participants also took stock of the progress made in external as well as internal quality assurance processes in past years. The forum concluded that a lot of progress has been made both in developing the processes as well as a creating a shared understanding among the stakeholders on what the guiding principles for quality assurance should be. Nevertheless, the speakers as well as the participant interventions underlined that QA processes – both external and internal – should remain ‘a means to an end’. Quality assurance should continue as a tool used to develop the quality of institutional activities, and not become the goal itself.

The role of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG) in promoting the European dimension of quality assurance were also debated. While the ESGs clearly have structured the European QA discussion in recent years, some speakers suggested the guidelines needed to be revised. The concluding panel discussion involving the Presidents of the E4 Group (please see below), however, outlined the need to evaluate how the ESGs have been implemented, for what purposes they are currently being used and to thoroughly analyse their strengths and weaknesses with respect to the purposes identified before undergoing revision. This issue is something the E4 group will be taking forward in the coming months.

The Forum is organised by the E4 Group consisting of EUA, the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), the European Students’ Union (ESU) and European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE) and is supported by the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission.

More information, including presentations from the Forum, will be available on the event website.

The electronic version of the publication is available for download here.

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