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Launch of eQuATIC tool – reveals quality of international partnerships

This month saw the official launch of eQuATIC (Online Quality Assurance Tool for International Cooperation), a new tool that assists higher education institutions to evaluate the quality, strengths and weaknesses of  their ongoing and potential international partnerships.

Although international partnerships are high on the agenda, quality assurance and management of these cooperative endeavours is lagging behind. A key question remains on how can we monitor the quality of cooperation objectively? Ghent University formulated a comprehensive response, and Flemish government granted them two-year project funding to develop an online tool, usable for all Flemish HEIs. Cooperation with a working group comprising close to all Flemish HEI, as well as foreign ones, insured the tool to fit for a wide variety of institutions. eQuATIC takes the unique approach of re-using and driving more value from the many data already available in various sources, including Erasmus+,  to be converted into indicators and descriptive quality reports enabling practitioners to understand the quality of partnerships. The tool has a substantial international dimension to enable online peer assessment, and reports can be generated about partners functioning, forming the base for action on quality improvement. 

The eQuATIC launch and conference held in Brussels, titled – Do we dare to talk about inefficient partnerships? Towards a data-based policy for better partnership management” - was kicked off by the Ministry of Education and Training in Flanders, presenting the project’s strategic relevance and connection to the national action plan for mobility ‘brains on the move’ and the role of data in operationalizing sound policies. Engaged speakers from Uk’s Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), The Freie Universität Berlin and the Central University of Lancashire guided the audience through challenges and opportunities of the power in information technology, good practice for partnerships from a data driven perspective, and strategies for globally oriented cooperation with third countries.  

Project Manager Paul Leys from Ghent University shared with the audience the 10 indicators of eQuATIC, and the data behind, that will advance an informed management of partnering efforts:
  1. Performance of in-and out-going studentsassessment of study load and study success
  2. Support and facilities – student satisfaction from Erasmus+ reports
  3. Academic quality – student satisfaction on teaching and learning
  4. Rankings – Times Higher Education, QS, ARWV
  5. Course catalogue information – student feedback on completeness to prepare the learning agreement
  6. Exchange of mobility documents – learning agreement & transcript processes, availability of grading tables
  7. Mobility rate – student and staff mobility
  8. Involvement – number of institutional agreements with different departments/programmes
  9. &10. Education and Research Collaboration – projects funded by education & research budgets, Joint programmes/Phds, joint publications

    The success of eQuATIC depends on the number of institutions using it for assessing each other. It is the ambition of the project management to make the tool widely available.
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