In January 2019, EUA’s Tia Loukkola wrote an article in which she examines the different frameworks for higher education quality assurance in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Loukkola compares the African Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ASG-QA) – developed under the EU-funded “Harmonisation of African Higher Education Quality Assurance and Accreditation” (HAQAA Initiative) – and the ASEAN Quality Assurance Framework (AQAF) – disseminated and piloted in the context of another EU-funded programme, EU-SHARE – as well as the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG).
Naturally, there are differences between the different frameworks to ensure their applicability and usefulness in each specific context. For instance, regarding internal quality assurance, the ASG-QA cover institutional activities (e.g. research, innovation, community engagement and institutional management) and education while the AQAF and ESG only touch upon these to the extent that they are relevant for educational quality. The ASG-QA also specifically reference distance and e-learning. AQAF, on the other hand, includes guidance for assuring the quality of the qualification frameworks, whereas the ESG and ASG-QA only make references to qualifications frameworks in relation to the expectations they lay out for educational programmes. The emphasis on student participation in the quality assurance processes and requirements to publish full external review reports is included only in the ESG.
Despite these differences, Loukkola stresses that the similarities in the documents outweigh the differences. For instance, all of them cover internal quality assurance carried out by higher education institutions, external quality assurance carried out by external QA agencies and quality assurance of the agencies’ activities. In all three regions, the efforts to find a shared view on good practice in quality assurance are part of a wider, regional integration processes in higher education (HE) with the aim to contribute to economic and cultural integration. The regional approaches converging brings us further in the ambition to contribute to the development of a shared language that facilitates mutual understanding and global collaboration. Finally, Loukkola notes that while decisive steps in this direction have already been taken, the European experience proves that the path towards a better, more integrated HE system is long and arduous, requiring some time, effort, and perseverance.
The full article is available on the EUA website.