Second thematic workshop within the SEQA ESG project – Harmonization of processes and methods with ESG

The second thematic workshop within the project “Support to European QA Agencies in fulfilling the ESG” (SEQA – ESG) was held on 29 and 30 November 2021. The aim of the workshop was to exchange experiences and challenges faced by the Agencies and Ministries in charge of education in the process of implementing and harmonizing standards for the evaluation of higher education institutions with ESGs.

The topic of the workshop was the harmonization of national criteria for (external) quality assurance with European standards and guidelines (ESG). In particular, the application of standards 2.1. Internal quality assurance in which is stated that “external quality assurance considers the effectiveness of the internal quality assurance process described in Part I of the ESG“, and with it the elements of Part I of the ESG standard. Experiences in the application of this standard were shared by the project partner Agencies, as well as experts from the Agencies from the region (ASHE Croatia, AIC Latvia).

During the first working day, presentations were made by representatives of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), the Quality Agency for Higher Education from Latvia, the National Accreditation Bureau from the Czech Republic and the Accreditation Agency for Higher Education from Slovakia regarding the requirements set by 2.1. standard when considering internal quality assurance in higher education institutions, challenges in the implementation of this standard as well as compliance with the national framework in the countries. After the presentation and open discussion during which the participants exchanged opinions, experiences but also the problems they encounter regarding the application of this standard, it was concluded that all stakeholders need to understand this standard and how to apply it, which can be achieved through continuous support and the education that the Agencies should provide.

On the second working day, a presentation was held by representatives of the Agency for Science and Higher Education from Croatia (ASHE), in which it was shown how ASHE covers part I of the ESG standard through external quality assurance activities. The presentation also included key indicators used in evaluation procedures. During the presentation and later the discussion in separate work groups on each element of the Part I ESG standard, the participants agreed that it is very important that the standards and indicators are understandable for higher education institutions and all other stakeholders in order for their application to be effective.

Although the role of the Agency is to assist higher education institutions in the quality assurance process, at the end of the workshop it was concluded that this is a process that is constantly changing and improving and that the institutions themselves are responsible for effective implementation of standards and quality assurance. The role of the Agencies in this process is primarily in providing continuous support to higher education institutions (and to all other stakeholders), education, defining clear standards and indicators that will be understood by institutions that need to provide quality education, but also experts who must evaluate those standards in the evaluation procedures.

The project “Support to European QA Agencies in fulfilling the ESG”, coordinated by ENQA, aims to support the newly established institutions for quality assurance in higher education in the implementation of the ESG. The project coordinator is ENQA, and the project partners are: ASCAL – Albanian Quality Assurance Agency, MESY – Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth of Albania, MSMT – Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic, NCFHE – National Commission for Higher Education with Malta, ANACEC – National Agency for Quality Assurance in Education and Research, Moldova, MECC – Ministry of Education, Moldova, ACQAHE – Agency for Quality Control and Assurance in Higher Education, Montenegro, MoES – Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports, Montenegro, SAAHE – Slovak Agency for Accreditation of Higher Education, from Slovakia, and MSVVAS – Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sports from Slovakia.

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