ENQA and SIACES seek to strengthen trust between the EHEA and the Ibero-American Knowledge Area through ESG-PBP Alignment project

José-M. Nyssen. Head of the Internationalisation and Studies Unit of ANECA and coordinator of the ESG-PBP Alignment project

ENQA and SIACES (Ibero-American System for Quality Assurance in Higher Education) are pleased to launch the ESG-PBP Alignment project. The overall objective of this initiative is to strengthen mutual trust between the European and Ibero-American regions by establishing a dialogue about their respective frameworks for quality assurance and quality enhancement in higher education: the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG) and the Principles of good practices in quality assurance systems (PBP).

The project is running from February 2024 until the first half of 2025 and will be coordinated by ANECA (Spain). In order to achieve the above-mentioned objective, a working group has been established involving the SIACES Secretariat, the ENQA Secretariat and several quality agencies from both regions such as CNA-Chile (Chile), CNA-Colombia (Colombia), CONEAU (Argentina), A3ES (Portugal), ANVUR (Italy), HCERES (France), QAA (UK) and ANECA (Spain).

This initiative builds on the Memorandum of Understanding signed by SIACES and ENQA in April 2022, which expresses the common will of the European and Ibero-American regions to establish ties of friendship and cooperation; build a common understanding that contributes to mutual trust and the strengthening of good practices in quality assurance of higher education; and reinforce and broaden cooperation and the exchange of experience in quality assurance of higher education in their respective regions.

This milestone represented a further step in the internationalisation of the dialogue on quality assurance of higher education, founded on both regions’ willingness to cooperate. Its importance was also underlined by the Declaration of the II EU-CELAC Academic and Knowledge Summit in 2023. Through the Memorandum, ENQA and SIACES agreed to actively seek opportunities for cooperation and to develop and implement joint projects, activities, events and other forms of cooperation in areas such as information exchange, staff development, and mutual understanding.

It is precisely in the last of these three areas of cooperation that a common commitment is expressed to “work to enhance the Parties’ understanding of each other’s approach to assuring quality in higher education, the respective systems in place for quality assurance and enhancement in higher education, and the critical matters related to quality and harmonisation of standards and guidelines, good practices and procedures adopted in both regions.”

The ESG-PBP Alignment project aims to strengthen mutual trust and explore the possibility of a better alignment of ESG and the PBP in the future. In the light of the above, the general aim of this project will be achieved by working on two specific objectives:

  1. Determining the degree of concordance and discordance between the ESG and the PBP.
  2. Preparing a joint proposal for potential further alignment of the ESG and PBP.

As a final step of this initiative, it is foreseen that ENQA and SIACES will be able to share the main results of the project within the context of the discussion on the revision and update of the ESG and the PBP in the near future. Therefore, the ESG-PBP Alignment initiative aims to become one of the building blocks of the bridge that both regions started to build decades ago through dialogue and mutual respect, based on a common will and shared values.

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