The latest addition to the European Higher Education Area’s institutional infrastructure is the European Quality Assurance Register (EQAR). Launched last March, EQAR became operational last summer.
The new agency is to provide oversight to the quality assurance agencies functioning within the member countries composing the European Higher Education Area.
Better known as the Bologna Process, the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) is expected to unify and harmonize the higher education system among 46 European countries according to a set of jointly agreed principles.
Armenia joined the process in 2005 but has been unable to comply with the requirements of the Process due to various reasons such as its highly ineffective Ministry of Education, insufficient government support, and widespread corruption. One of the main areas of discrepancy between EHEA expectations and the Armenian HE system is the issue of quality assurance that includes the current – rather obsolete – licensing and accreditation practices.
EQAR is governed and co-funded by 4 influential European organizations:
The European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA)
The European Students Union (ESU)
The European University Association (EUA)
The European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE)
Usually referred to as “the E4 Group”, the tight collaboration of the above-mentioned organizations is in accordance with one of the fundamental philosophies behind the EHEA: Getting all stakeholders, including the student body and employers, involved in the educational improvement process.
EQAR will list the quality assurance agencies that are in full compliance with European standards that are, by definition, valid in all 46 countries. Its mission statement indicates that it will strive “to further the development of the European Higher Education Area by increasing transparency of quality assurance, and thus enhancing trust and confidence in European higher education”.
The establishment of EQAR is particularly good news for countries such as Armenia that have serious problems in the area of quality assurance. It will hopefully facilitate the creation of a true and independent quality assurance agency in the country which can then exercise reliable and valid quality control over institutions of higher education. It can also favor and reinforce the effectiveness of quality assurance committees or officers that operate within different institutions.
For further information on EQAR, please click here.