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The final conference of the “Transparency of European higher education through public quality assurance reports“ (EQArep) project, was held in Brussels on Tuesday, the 23rd September 2014.
The conference gathered participants from QA agencies and other stakeholders such as higher education institutions, students, employer representatives and European and national policymakers, and presented the most important project outcomes.
Since the Agency for Science and Higher Education (ASHE) is one of project partners, the conference was attended by ASHE representative Đurđica Dragojević who presented the Guidelines for summary quality assurance reports for higher education. Presentations of other participants can be found here.

Main conclusions of the EQArep project: 

  • basic mission of external quality assurance procedures in higher education is not transparency; transparency is a tenet of the agencies’ procedures and activities, but the agencies’ job is not to guarantee the veracity of information provided to the public by higher education institutions, but primarily to work towards developing HEIs’ quality and guarantee that they meet the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area and national standards.
  • quality assurance reports are fully read only by a limited number of people, primarily competent persons from higher education institutions and agencies’ panel members. These people read the reports very carefully and minutely, which is why the terminology must be consistent, report structure clear and given in advance, expert panels trained on how to write the report and, finally, the report must represent the only outcome of the procedure.
  • expert panel reports are a guarantee of higher education institutions’ quality, but it is not strictly necessary that the public should read them. Therefore, the recommendation is that quality assurance agencies should publish summary reports on the websites which will contain basic information about the QA agency, procedure and the evaluated higher education institution.

To recapitulate, EQArep is a 24-month project that began in September 2012, and is coordinated by the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA). In addition to ASHE, project partners are quality assurance agencies from Estonia, Ireland and Switzerland. The aim of the project is to get an overview of current practices in writing external quality assurance reports in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), examine the attitudes of stakeholders and HEIs, and develop European guidelines for summary QA reports with the aim of making them more approachable and useful to higher education institutions, policy makers, students and the wider public.