EUROPE: Quality assurance makes significant headway

In its first report on progress in quality assurance in higher education, the European Commission has pointed to significant developments towards greater transparency and credibility over the past few years. Progress has not only been made in the way universities deal internally with quality assurance, but also on external evaluation of institutions and programmes. Many new national quality assurance agencies have been established and there is increased awareness of European standards and guidelines on quality assurance.

Ján Figel, the European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, said in a statement: "Quality assurance is vital for making European higher education attractive and trustworthy, in line with the objectives of the EU modernisation agenda for higher education and the Bologna Process. Globalisation, economic integration and increased academic and professional mobility are making mutual recognition and cross-border quality assurance increasingly important. As a consequence, higher education is becoming more transparent and credible for citizens, employers and students within and outside Europe.'

The first triennial report on quality assurance in higher education in Europe was published in response to a request by the European Parliament and the Council in 2006. It looks at developments at national, European and international levels, and suggests a number of areas for further discussion including the need to make the infrastructure of quality assurance more efficient for users.

The Report will be discussed for the first time under the Swedish EU Presidency at the meeting of Directors-General for Higher Education in Kalmar on 7 October.

At national level, according to the report, many new quality assurance agencies have been created. There are now agencies in almost all of the 46 countries of the European Higher Education Area. They are rather heterogeneous in terms of size, scope, statute, focus and international capacity. At the same time quality assurance is receiving an increasingly solid foundation at the European level.
Report on progress in quality assurance in higher education