UNESCO-GIQAC project focused on capacity building activities for quality assurance networks in the field of higher education in the regions of Central Asia and the Balkans. GIQAC was a joint initiative of UNESCO and the World Bank.
UNESCO-GIQAC project focused on capacity building activities for quality assurance networks in the field of higher education in the regions of Central Asia and the Balkans.
Objectives of the project
The objectives of UNESCO-GIQAC project were:
- to start or support setting up quality assurance agencies and
- to support recently established quality assurance agencies to comply with internationally accepted standards such as the ESG.
The overall goals were divided into two groups: the first group gathered countries without agencies or agencies only in the founding phase mainly situated in Central Asia, while the second group gathered countries with relatively young agencies in the Balkan region.
In Central Asia the focus lied more on basic questions of sharing knowledge and understanding internationally agreed principles for quality assurance such as the ESG, and consequently adapting and implementing them while respecting the national framework. Thus, the first objective was to raise the level of awareness of internationally agreed standards for quality assurance by sharing European experience and good practice. The second objective was to start the process of setting up an agency and getting it running.
In the Balkan region the focus lied more on aligning the procedures of the relatively young agencies with the European and international standards. The first objective was to modify – where necessary – regulations at national and agency level in order to guarantee compliance with ESG, especially as regards the position of the agency within the system. The second objective was to create a pool of trained potential members of external review panels by sharing experience in applying ESG in external quality assurance procedures.
The countries forming the target region for this project were:
- the Balkan region: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Moldova, and Serbia.
- the Central Asia region: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
Most of the countries of the Balkan region and in Central Asia belong to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), but most of them joined the Bologna process only recently. As regards quality assurance in higher education, especially external quality assurance is a relatively new phenomenon and is not carried out in accordance with international good practice, or even in compliance with the ESG. The project helped disseminating good practice and solid, shared procedures in the targeted countries, especially as regards the work of quality assurance agencies, where already existing. In countries without quality assurance agencies the major aim of the project was to start or support the process of setting up an agency in accordance with internationally agreed standards, such as the ESG.
The duration of the project was 14 months, from January 2011 to March 2012.
The first meeting of the steering group took place in January 2011 and the following two meetings were planned for November 2011 and February 2012.
The first activity in both regions (Balkan and Central Asia) was a kick-off workshop on the application of international standards like the ESG in internal and external quality assurance and especially by quality assurance agencies. The kick-off in the Balkans took place on 16-17 June 2011. The second kick-off workshop targeted the Central Asian region. The purpose of these workshops was to familiarise the participants with the current developments in quality assurance in higher education and to raise awareness as regards standards which agencies have to comply with in order to be recognised at the international level.
As second activity ENQA sent experts twice to those countries which do not have quality assurance agencies and which are about or plan to set up agencies. The purpose of these consultancy visits was to discuss and prepare the necessary steps to set up an agency, regarding political, legal and organisational issues. Based on the kick-off workshop these visits should have initiated or strengthened policy dialogue and offer individual consultancy in order to take into account the national frameworks.
In the Balkan region, a third activity was related to the training of experts for external reviews at programme and institutional level. Potential experts got acquainted with international good practice in conducting site visits and writing reports. A second feature of this training seminar was to identify a group of potential trainers for such training seminars which will be further qualified in ENQA seminars.
The project resulted in project report for each region, with publication of the reports on March 2012.
The daily management and coordination of the project was done at the ENQA Secretariat in close cooperation with the ENQA Board. The President, Vice-President Helka Kekäläinen and three Board members, two of which also represent the CEE network, formed a steering group which was responsible for the overall project planning. The steering group reported regularly to the Presidency and at the Board meetings.
The Director acted as Secretary in the Board meetings and attended them together with another Secretariat staff member (who functions as an Assistant Secretary).