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Quality of higher education
The Council calls on the Member States to introduce quality-assessment and quality-assurance mechanisms into their higher education systems and to promote cooperation between the authorities responsible for quality assurance in higher education..
Council Recommendation (EC) No 561/98 of 24 September 1998 on European cooperation in quality assurance in higher education [Official Journal L 270 of 7.10.1998]
The Council of the European Union recommends to Member States that they establish transparent quality assessment and quality assurance systems in the field of higher education.
The aim is to safeguard and improve the quality of higher education while taking due account of national conditions, the European dimension and international requirements.
The systems of quality assessment and quality assurance must be based on the following principles:
- autonomy and independence of the bodies responsible for quality assessment and quality assurance;
- relating evaluation procedures to the way institutions see themselves;
- internal (self-reflective) and external (experts' appraisals) assessment;
- involvement of all the players (teaching staff, administrators, students, alumni, social partners, professional associations, inclusion of foreign experts);
- publication of evaluation reports.
The Council recommends Member States to ensure that follow-up measures are taken at national or regional level in order to enable higher education institutions to implement their plans for improving quality and for integrating graduates into the labour market more effectively.
The Member States are also recommended to ensure that high priority is given by public authorities and by the management of higher education institutions to continuous exchange of experience with other Member States and with international organisations active in this field.
The Council also recommends Member States to promote cooperation between the authorities responsible for evaluating quality in higher education and encourage their networking. This cooperation should concern:
- exchange of information and experience;
- fulfilling requests for expertise and advice from the authorities in the Member States and promotion of contacts with international experts;
- support for higher education institutes in the different countries which wish to cooperate.
In pursuing these objectives, the links with other Community activities, notably in the framework of the Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci programmes, should also be taken into account, as well as the "acquis communautaire" in the field of recognition of qualifications for professional purposes.
The Commission is invited to support this cooperation between the authorities responsible for evaluation and quality control in higher education, by involving organisations and associations in the European Community that possess the necessary experience in the field of evaluation and quality assurance in higher education.
The Commission is requested to present, every three years, a report on the development of quality assessment and quality assurance systems in the Member States and on cooperation activities at European level in this field.