Reflections on the success of ENQA’s Leadership Development Programme as new edition is launched

ENQA is committed to continuing its support for the professional development of staff in quality assurance agencies across the European Higher Education Area. As part of this we are delighted to continue the Leadership Development Programme (LDP), which offers an intensive European peer-learning experience for high-potential staff in member and affiliate quality assurance agencies.

Participants are nominated by ENQA member and affiliate agencies. They attend three seminars across the year and work on a small group project, which is presented at the end of the Programme. Next edition’s seminars will be hosted by MAB in Budapest (Hungary), UKÄ in Stockholm (Sweden) and AQAS in Cologne (Germany).

To coincide with the preparations for the 2024 LDP, those involved in last year’s Programme look back on their experiences. “I would like to start by saying that my expectations for the Programme were fully met,” indicates Jasmine Rudolph (ACQUIN, Germany), one of the participants of the 2023 edition of the Programme. “As a Head of International Department with a medium-sized team, I was looking for valuable advice on how to become a leader who can balance the needs of my team with the expectations of our accreditation agency and find a good balance between supporting and challenging my team. I was able to find all of this in the Programme.

“I would like to highlight two particularly valuable aspects: The discussion and reflection on different leadership styles that took place in the three seminars, as well as the discourse encouraged by the seminar leaders around the discussion of what “leadership” means. Here, the exchange with the other participants was just as valuable and important. Hearing how colleagues from all European agencies work daily broadened our horizons and brought a great deal of mutual understanding. Afterwards, we were able to work together in groups on a joint international project, which was immensely enjoyable. I can therefore say that this Programme helped me in my further professional development. In addition, I have not only gained valuable contacts in all European agencies, but I have also made new friends for life – something I had not expected. We are and will continue to stay in touch to support each other and see how we all develop in our leadership positions.”

To deliver the Programme, ENQA is continuing its successful collaboration with the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS), University of Twente (the Netherlands) as the programme leader. The CHEPS trainers, Harry de Boer and Daniela Craciun, explain what the Programme means to them:

“What makes the ENQA Leadership Development Programme unique is the focus on peer-to-peer instruction. For us, leading the programme means creating an environment where professionals can understand their own leadership style and team work and have the opportunity to build and strengthen their networks. It is very inspiring that these professionals openly share experiences and knowledge on how to deal with key developments in higher education affecting quality assurance. As such, the programme is explicitly designed to enable participants to learn from each other and try their hand interactively at leading change processes through simulations, role play, negotiation, and decision-making. 

“Through their motivation, enthusiasm and knowledge, the participants determine the success of the programme. In recent years, this has been particularly successful. We therefore enjoy facilitating this programme very much. The role of the hospitable host agencies further contributes to this.”

ENQA member agencies volunteer their time and resources to host the three seminars that create each edition of the Programme. Belgian agency VLUHR-QA hosted the final seminar of 2023 in Brussels. As part of the agenda, there is always an interview with the Director of the hosting agency, giving participants a unique opportunity to learn from the experience of the sector’s leaders. VLUHR-QA’s Director, Patrick Van den Bosch, reflects on this:

“During the leadership interview, participants can take an inside look at how you run a QA agency. It is great to explain to high-potential professional staff how your organisation functions but also give an insight into the challenges you face as CEO. It also felt like an engaging introspection for me.”

For the first time, in 2023 ENQA also held an alumni event to facilitate continued networking between previous participants of the LDP. Yvonne Overdevest (NVAO, the Netherlands) attended the event:

“As an LDP alumna I was excited to meet and work with the 2023 cohort. This was one of those events where agency staffers can interact with their European peers so the opportunity to talk QA and break bread with my colleagues was very rewarding. I met many other past and present LDP’ers, and a number of those contacts have led to further fruitful professional cooperation.”

The 2024 Leadership Development Programme is currently open for registrations. Further information is available here. An alumni event for participants of previous rounds of the Programme will take place on 28-29 November in Cologne, Germany.

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