External quality assurance frameworks and their alignment with the ESG – EQAR policy brief using ETER data available online

In most European countries, higher education institutions or study programmes are subject to regular external review by a quality assurance agency. The European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) is the official register of such agencies, listing those that work in line with an agreed common framework to ensure the quality of higher education institutions and study programmes. EQAR launched the Database of External Quality Assurance Results (DEQAR) in 2018 to ensure direct access to the reports and decisions of EQAR-registered agencies.

In the context of the DEQAR CONNECT project, a policy brief has been published recently, which investigates the extent of Quality Assurance practices in different countries. Specifically, by combining data from DEQAR and ETER, countries can be compared as of the share of HEIs in ETER and the respective share of enrolled students covered by Quality Assurance (QA), as illustrated by the figure below. Results show large variation between countries, in some countries such as Germany and Poland almost all students are enrolled in HEIs that have been subject to formal QA in line with the ESG, while in countries such as Italy and Czechia this is limited to a few HEIs.

The ETER and DEQAR database together form a veritable treasure cave of information, with ETER containing information on higher education institutions in Europe (basic characteristics, educational activities, staff, finances and research activities etc.) and DEQAR the external QA results and reports of EQAR-registered agencies. The integration of indicators on quality assurance based on DEQAR data directly into the ETER database is currently ongoing and planned to be available in late 2021.