ENQA is the representative body of quality assurance agencies in the European Higher Education Area and works hard to ensure that their voice is heard in the relevant policy discussions, most notably in the Bologna Process and with the European Commission.
ENQA also collaborates with other stakeholder organisations and quality assurance networks to share practice and cooperate on common issues where appropriate.
Find out more below about ENQA’s representative work and key partners.
The Bologna Process is an inter-governmental cooperation agreement, launched in 1999, which aims to enhance quality, recognition, and collaboration across higher education systems by facilitating common reform processes. In this framework, the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) was launched in 2010. It now has 49 member states and the Bologna Process continues to steer its development.
Every two or three years the ministers of education of all EHEA member states gather for the ministerial conference to discuss progress, set the goals for the next period and approve the Communiqué, which highlights the key issues. The work in between each conference is coordinated by the Bologna Follow-up Group (BFUG).
ENQA is a consultative member of the Bologna Process, contributing to matters on quality assurance and representing the interests of ENQA member agencies. ENQA is a consultative member of the BFUG and joins the working groups, advisory groups, and peer support groups where appropriate.
ENQA, together with other stakeholder partners, has been heavily involved in several initiatives of the Bologna Process, most notably:
- The development of the ESG in 2005 and the revision of the ESG in 2015
- The development of the European Approach to the Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes in 2015
- The establishment of the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) in 2008
One of the key commitments of the Bologna Process is to implement quality assurance in line with the ESG. ENQA specifically contributes towards this goal by supporting quality assurance agencies in their development and conducting reviews of agencies against parts 2 and 3 of the ESG.
As input to each ministerial conference, ENQA publishes a message to the Ministers, highlighting what we see as the main challenges and areas for development in implementing the commitments of the Bologna Process.
The European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) was founded in 2008 by the E4 Group (ENQA, EUA, EURAHSE and ESU) at the request of the EHEA ministers for education, as part of the Bologna Process. EQAR is the first, and so far only, legal entity created in the context of the Bologna Process.
EQAR’s role is to maintain a list of external quality assurance agencies that operate in substantial compliance with the ESG. In this way EQAR aims to provide clear, accessible and trustworthy information about quality assurance agencies in order to help increase trust in and recognition of quality assurance, higher education institutions, programmes and qualifications.
Decisions on an agency’s inclusion on the register are taken by EQAR’s independent Register Committee on the basis of an external review against the ESG. Most of these reviews are conducted by ENQA.
As a founding member, ENQA is represented in EQAR’s Executive Board and General Assembly, and nominates two members of the Register Committee.
ENQA has long-standing relationships with key European organisations representing stakeholders in higher education.
ENQA’s main partners are:
- European University Association (EUA)
- European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE)
- European Students’ Union (ESU)
- Business Europe
- Education International
The E4 Group is formed of ENQA, EUA, EURASHE and ESU. These four organisations cooperate regularly on matters of higher education quality assurance on ensure a strong united voice on matters where stakeholder views converge. This cooperation includes
- Organising the annual European Quality Assurance Forum (EQAF), the Europe’s largest gathering of quality assurance stakeholders
- Managing the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR), which as founded by the E4 Group
- Preparing the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG) in 2005, and revising them in 2015 in cooperation with Business Europe, Education International and EQAR
- Implementing joint projects to support the development of quality assurance in line with the ESG, including most recently the EQUIP project (Enhancing policy through innovative policy and practice)
- Preparing joint statements and publications such as the ‘The ESG in the changing landscape of higher education’ (2020), and the ‘Key consideration for cross-border quality assurance in the EHEA’ (2017).
ENQA also maintains links with other quality assurance networks to enhance cooperation with other regions of the world and to ensure that ENQA’s members benefit from exchange of practice. ENQA main international partners include
- African Quality Assurance Network (AfriQAN)
- ASEAN Quality Assurance Network (AQAN)
- Asia-Pacific Quality Network (APQN)
- Arab Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ANQAHE)
- Council of Regional Accrediting Commission (C-RAC, USA)
- International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE)
- Council for Higher Education Accreditation International Quality Group (CIQG, USA)