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Brief history of quality assurance system

Since it was established in 2005, the Agency for Science and Higher Education has been working on organising a system of quality assurance in higher education and science.

The process developed in several stages. In the first stage, a quality management system according to ISO 9001 was formed, in line with the Act on Scientific Activity and Higher Education, which levelled the quality of all our activities. Article 15 of this Act defines the role of the Agency as an expert body that provides national councils with professional and administrative support in evaluation of higher education institutions and study programmes, establishing of new HEIs and quality assurance. Det Norske Veritas carried out a certification of quality management system in 2006, and continued with annual external evaluations. On account of some changes that have been made to ISO 9001:2008, the Agency was re-certified in 2009.

During this period the Agency also expanded its staff strength. Director of the Agency allowed for additional professional education of employees in order to ensure the quality of their work and professional carrying out of assignments and activities.

Agency employees participate in seminars and conferences by all major organisations in the area of higher education quality assurance (ENQA, EUA, EAIR, INQAAHE, CEENet) where they get insight in new trends and good international practice, as well as the opportunity to establish cooperation with similar agencies from other countries. The Agency became a member of INQAAHE and CEENet, umbrella organisations for quality assurance agencies.

After years of improving quality management system documents and employees’ skills and competences, changes of legislation and adoption of Act on Quality Assurance in Science and Higher Education redefined the role of ASHE. This marked the beginning of a new stage in development of quality assurance in higher education and science.

With the existing quality management system, a reorganisation was carried out within the Agency, in accordance with its new role in external evaluation of higher education institutions and scientific organisations.

With this new Act the Agency became responsible for all types of quality evaluations in higher education and science.

A new expert body called the Accreditation Council was established within the Agency, with a specific task of issuing opinions upon which ASHE gives accreditation recommendations for license extension or denial, or issues letters of expectation.

In 2010, ASHE key documents were drafted, such as ASHE Strategy for 2010-2014 and Quality Assurance Manual.


Strategy defines values, which are fostered in carrying out all ASHE activities, ASHE positioning and comparison with similar agencies in the world as well as cooperation with umbrella organizations and agencies. In addition to strategy, operative plans were drafted for 2010 and 2011.


Analysis of the efficiency of the operative plan for 2010 was carried out for the purpose of realisation of ASHE strategic goals and mission. Documents are available on ASHE Intranet.

Quality Assurance Manual

Upon the creation of the Strategy, Quality Assurance Manual was drafted. The Manual describes the quality assurance system of ASHE. Quality assurance system is based on Quality management system developed in line with ISO 9001:2002 norm and applies to the administrative and management activities in ASHE. It is also based on relevant documents for evaluating quality in science and higher education, ASHE strategy, ASHE annual report and analyses of the efficiency of the activities that have been carried out.

Quality Assurance Manual

At the beginning of 2011, internal audit of quality assurance system was carried out and the report was drafted, which shows the efficiency of the system and compliance of the documents with ESG. The report is available on ASHE Intranet.

External evaluation of ASHE is carried out by ENQA on the basis of ASHE self-evaluation report.