Quality Assurance of Cross-border Higher Education – QACHE

ENQA was granted funding for an Erasmus Mundus/Action 3 Project entitled “Quality Assurance of Cross-border Higher Education” (QACHE). The project was implemented between 1 October 2013 and 31 March 2016. The project looked closely into different ways in which European QA agencies and higher education institutions (HEIs) address the accreditation and quality assurance of the programmes delivered outside of their countries.


1 October 2013 to 31 March 2016 (27 months)

The partnership involved quality assurance agencies from four significant European provider countries, a main provider country outside Europe (Australia), and the two main host regions of European cross-border education (Gulf and Asia-Pacific regions):
Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), UK
High Council for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (HCERES), France
National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA), Spain
German Accreditation Council (GAC), Germany
Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), Australia
Arab Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ANQAHE)
Asia-Pacific Quality Network (APQN)


The QACHE project aimed to address, in terms of information and practical support, the quality assurance of cross-border higher education (CBHE) by looking closely into different ways in which European quality assurance agencies and higher education institutions (HEIs) address the accreditation and quality assurance of the programmes delivered outside of their countries.
The innovative aspect of the project was the creation of a common European quality assurance approach to cross-border higher education which would contribute to the promotion of European higher education in other parts of the world.


The main objectives were fourfold:

  1. to enhance policy dialogue within European countries and between Europe and other world regions on quality assurance of CBHE, and enhance thus mutual understanding of different approaches to CBHE and different methods in quality assurance;
  2. to further develop the European dimension in quality assurance;
  3. to facilitate and enhance the engagement of European HEIs in CBHE provision;
  4. to protect students against low standard provision and issues related to recognition of CBHE.

More specifically, the project provided quality assurance agencies and HEIs with guidance for activities of internal and external quality assurance processes of CBHE; with support in establishing procedures for CBHE, as well as with comprehensive information on common approaches on quality assurance of CBHE. Based on good practices from Europe, Australia, Asia-Pacific and the Gulf Region, the project elaborated basic principles for a common approach to quality assurance of European CBHE enabling higher education to be of comparable quality and meet the same standards within or outside Europe and being recognised in the host country without facing double procedures.

The project results facilitate collaboration with regions outside Europe by providing a shared framework applicable to and used by all European countries. The project also strengthened the accessibility and attractiveness of European CBHE to providers and students in other parts of the world through increased efficiency of quality assurance of CBHE.

In order to achieve its objectives, the project assessed the role of national quality assurance agencies in evaluating/accrediting CBHE and identified the main obstacles and challenges. The project analysed and compared examples of good practices from countries with extensive CBHE provision experience. It further assessed to what extend specific criteria and procedures are in place for CBHE as compared to those used in quality assurance of education delivered in-country in order to create a set of principles for European CBHE, compatible with the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area.

Phase 1:

Collection and analysis of examples of good practice and information through online surveys addressed to

  1. QA agencies members of ENQA
  2. QA agencies members of ANQAHE and APQN
  3. CBHE providers in Europe

The surveys contained both closed questions (to enable comparison and production of data) as well as open questions, in particular to identify challenges and good practice.

Phase 2:

Preparation of country reports and identification of case examples and good practice based on desk research in four European core provider countries (France, Germany, Spain, the UK), as well as Australia.

Semi-structured phone interviews (with European and Australian HEIs, quality assurance agencies and national authorities) to provide additional qualitative information for the country reports, enable identification of good practice examples, and to collect perceptions on the state of quality assurance of CBHE in the given country.

Phase 3:

In order to validate the findings gathered through the first two phases, to collect further perspectives and support the development of the final project outcomes, three regional events were organised during the project lifespan:

  1. European Expert Forum gathering all relevant stakeholders from a range of European countries
  2. Gulf States Regional Forum
  3. Asian Regional Forum

The two regional forums in the Gulf Region and in East Asia disseminated information on the status of quality assurance of CBHE in Europe and established and reinforced collaborative links and dialogue between agencies in Europe and in the target regions.

Phase 4:

The project outcomes and outputs were disseminated at a final conference, gathering participants among practitioners of quality assurance, providers of CBHE, policy makers, and stakeholders.

The following is a video made during the project’s final conference, in which different QACHE partners were interviewed:

Quality Assurance of Cross-border Higher… par HCERES


  1. A toolkit on quality assurance of CBHE for agencies and HEIs;
  2. Common principles for quality assurance of CBHE for agencies and HEIs;
  3. A format for a pilot testing to be applied voluntarily after the end of the project by identified CBHE initiatives to support sustainability of the project outcomes;
  4. Publication of the project outcomes and recommendations in a comprehensive final report.

Country Reports
United Kingdom

Survey Analyses
Asia-Pacific Region
Gulf Region

The QACHE project was mentioned in the Erasmus Plus’s publication on Testimonials of Erasmus Mundus Projects.

The QACHE website is available here.

With the support of the Erasmus Mundus programme of the European Union.

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