The partners of the EQUIP project, including ENQA, have published a study and recommendations on the role of quality assurance in improving higher education in the European Higher Education Area. The study is the result of a series of activities including workshops, surveys, and focus groups implemented under the framework of the EQUIP project (“Enhancing quality through innovative policy & practice”). Entitled Enhancing quality: from policy to practice, the study covers topics such as diversity of external contexts and legal frameworks, institutional responsibility for quality assurance, communication about quality assurance, quality culture and bureaucracy, and student-centred learning.
The study notes that stakeholders in the EHEA do have a shared understanding of quality assurance, but that there are differences in perspectives and approaches which depend on factors such as: the purpose assigned to higher education; the balance between accountability and enhancement in the quality assurance system; and levels of trust, maturity, and self-confidence in the quality assurance system at institutional and national level. Furthermore, it is clear that there is still work to be done in bridging the gap between the theory of a quality assurance system and how it works in practice. The study also highlights that quality assurance should be treated as one tool among many for fostering quality higher education and that finding synergies with other tools and supporting collaboration between stakeholders is important to increasing efficiency and avoiding duplication of work.
The findings and recommendations are complemented by case examples illustrating some of the approaches used by institutions and QA agencies across the EHEA. The key messages and recommendations for public authorities are also presented in a separate policy leaflet, which is intended to feed into discussions at the 2018 Bologna Process Ministerial Meeting.