In accordance with the ENQA membership criteria member agencies are required to undergo external reviews against the ESG. The review will be based on information provided in the self-assessment report (SAR) and an external assessment normally including a site visit. An expert panel organized and coordinated by the ENQA is composed of European independent reviewers.
The Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area
The communiqué of the Ministers of the Bologna Process signatory states invited ENQA to develop the Standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG). The Russian Federation signed the Bologna Declaration and as other participating countries committed itself to establish the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). In 2005 the ESG was developed and approved by the European Ministers Responsible for Higher Education and recommended for implementation in the national quality assurance systems. In 2015 a revised version of the ESG came out.
A key goal of the ESG is to contribute to the common understanding of quality assurance for learning and teaching across borders and among all stakeholders. The ESG are used by institutions and quality assurance agencies as a reference document for internal and external quality assurance systems in higher education. The ESG are not standards for quality, nor do they prescribe how the quality assurance processes are implemented, but they provide guidance, covering the areas which are vital for successful quality provision and learning environments in higher education. The term ‘quality assurance’ is used in this document to describe all activities within the continuous improvement cycle (i.e. assurance and enhancement activities).
The ESG have the following purposes:
- They set a common framework for quality assurance systems for learning and teaching at European, national and institutional level;
- They enable the assurance and improvement of quality of higher education in the European Higher Education Area;
- They support mutual trust, thus facilitating recognition and mobility within and across national borders;
- They provide information on quality assurance in the EHEA.
The ESG are based on the following principles:
- Higher education institutions have primary responsibility for the quality of their provision and its assurance;
- Quality assurance responds to the diversity of higher education systems, institutions, programmes and students;
- Quality assurance supports the development of a quality culture;
- Quality assurance takes into account the needs and expectations of students, all other stakeholders and society.
The document has been divided into three parts:
- Internal quality assurance (part )
- External quality assurance (part 2)
- Quality assurance agencies (part 3)
The three parts are intrinsically interlinked and together form the basis for a European quality assurance framework. External quality assurance in Part 2 recognises the standards for internal quality assurance in Part 1 thus ensuring that the internal work undertaken by institutions is directly relevant to any external quality assurance that they undergo. In the same way Part 3 refers to Part 2. Thus, these three parts work on a complementary basis in higher education institutions as well as in agencies and also work on the understanding that other stakeholders contribute to the framework. As a consequence, the three parts should be read as a whole.