ENQA works on a range of topics that are relevant for external quality assurance agencies and strategically important for ENQA. Our approaches include input to policy-making, leading and partnering in projects, coordinating working groups, conducting surveys and consultations, publishing reports, facilitating sharing of experience, and collaborating with other stakeholders.
All these activities are interlinked: input to policy-making is shaped by evidence gathered from members. In turn, ENQA ensures that members are informed about the latest developments in the European quality assurance landscape and supported in developing their own practices.
Below are some of the key topics that ENQA works on with information about related activities and resources.
The long-standing acknowledgement of the importance of lifelong learning, combined with a more recent emphasis on the need for flexible and individualised learning paths for the benefit of increased employability, has resulted in significant interest in the concept of microcredentials. For quality assurance agencies, it is important to reflect on whether and how these units of learning and the resulting credentials are covered by their processes.
In 2020 ENQA provided input to a European Commission expert group on microcredentials. Based on the discussions, the European Commission has proposed a common European definition, common characteristics and a roadmap of actions for actions and timing needed at a European and national level to develop and implement a European approach to micro-credentials.
ENQA is also a partner in the MICROBOL project (running 2020-2022), in which ministries and stakeholders explore whether and how the existing Bologna tools can be used and/or need to be adapted to be applicable to microcredentials.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced most quality assurance agency to move their evaluation and accreditation activities online. In June 2020, ENQA held a webinar for members to exchange experiences and practices about conducting online site visits. In 2021 ENQA will examine this topic further, looking not only at current online quality assurance processes conducted by member agencies, but also exploring how these experiences may prompt long term changes in the future of external quality assurance.
Joint programme are an important feature of the EHEA, contributing to mobility and cooperation between institutions, and providing a unique learning experience for students. Despite the harmonisation of quality assurance in the European Higher Education Area through alignment of national frameworks with the ESG, the quality assurance of joint programmes remains a challenge in many contexts, in particular in systems using programme-level accreditation.
To help remove this barrier, ENQA contributed to the development of the European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes, which was adopted by the EHEA ministers for higher education in 2015. However, obstacles to its use still exist in some national frameworks.
To support the use of the European Approach, ENQA was a partner in the ImpEA project (Facilitating implementation of the European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes) in 2017-2020. The outcomes of the project include a report on current use of the European Approach as well as a practical toolkit.
The quality assurance of e-learning has been an important topic for many years, but took on additional significance in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic caused most universities to switch to emergency remote teaching and subsequently enhance their online education provision.
The quality assurance of e-learning is guided by the ESG, as these apply regardless of mode or place of delivery. The report produced by ENQA’s working group on the quality assurance of e-learning in 2016-2018 provides some additional considerations for higher education institutions and quality assurance agencies as to how the ESG can be specifically applied to e-learning.
Cross-border quality assurance refers to external quality assurance activities of a quality assurance agency carried out in a country other than the one in which it is based or primarily operates. In 2015 the EHEA ministers of higher education committed to allowing higher education institutions to use a suitable EQAR-registered agency for their external quality assurance processes. In practice this commitment is only partially implemented. In 2017, the E4 Group (ENQA, EUA, EURASHE and ESU) and EQAR published a set of guiding questions and key considerations to support higher education institutions and agencies that engage in or consider engaging in cross-border quality assurance activities within the EHEA.