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The European Commission invites EU member states to improve quality assurance for higher education and vocational training. Building on a previous report published in 2009, the new 2014 report gives an overview of the progress made in the last years and suggests possible improvements concerning quality assurance throughout Europe.
The vast majority of higher education institutions in EU member states already have public strategies for continuous quality enhancement, which in the cases of Czech Republic, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Finland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands even amount to 100 %. However, the report notes a certain reluctance to disclose negative evaluations which, in turn, undermines the purpose of quality assurance and transparency. Likewise, quality assurance has only proven to a limited degree how it can contribute to Europe 2020 and national targets, as their effect on attracting broader cross-sections of society into higher education is rather marginal. The report also draws attention to the insufficient usage of quality assurance to measure workload and the correct application of ECTS, as well as the low rate of evaluations on student support services. Quality assurance should be made use of in order to assess whether acquired skills really meet labour market needs in order to avoid skill mismatches, a serious problem the Commission drew attention to earlier before (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, November 2013). The report also expresses confidence that quality assurance measures could increase student mobility and points out to European cooperation in this field by work of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) and the European Quality Assurance Register (EQAR). In consequence, the Commission recommends cooperation between higher education institutions and foreign registered quality assurance agencies in order to create a European quality-enhancing dimension of quality assurance.
The European Commission will back improvements in these fields through Erasmus+ by providing the necessary frameworks for cross-border cooperation in quality assurance and by supporting further higher education reform.