Based on the findings of agency reviews between 2020 and 2022, ENQA has produced a new thematic analysis: “What comes after the agency reports are published? – An analysis of approaches to follow-up (ESG 2.3) and complaints and appeals (ESG 2.7)”.
The analysis concentrates on quality assurance agencies’ approaches to follow-up (as required by ESG 2.3) and to complaints and appeals procedures (ESG 2.7) as part of their external quality assurance activities. It provides an insight into the variety of approaches across the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) as well as reflection on how panels identified these approaches in terms of showcasing the examples of good practice or persistent difficulty. For this purpose, the external review reports of 22 quality assurance agencies from 13 countries have been studied, including one agency operating at European level.
On the agencies’ approach to follow-up, the paper emphasises that the follow-up should be present and meaningful across all types of procedures conducted by an agency and applicable to all evaluated programmes/institutions, regardless of the outcome of the original review procedure and/or whether the agency is itself responsible for any final decision.
Regarding ESG 2.7, the paper identifies that a significant number of agencies still experience difficulties with the requirements of this standard, but the issues experienced are not the same for appeals as they are for complaints. In addition, the analysis underlines the persistent confusion regarding the two terms.
The thematic analysis is produced as a part of ENQA’s commitment to using the wealth of information collected as the primary coordinator of agency reviews and presenting in a way that can benefit the wider external quality assurance community. It is hoped that the results will provide a helpful overview of the diversity of approaches used by QA agencies, as well as inspiration for agencies designing or revising their processes for follow-up and appeals and complaints. At the same time, the analysis has highlighted issues that can be further addressed by ENQA itself, including by identifying areas for attention by review panels and the Agency Review Committee to ensure the consistency of the reviews.