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IP/08/370

Brussels, 4 March 2008

Commissioner Figel' welcomes the launch of the European Quality Assurance Register in Higher Education (EQAR)

The quality of teaching at European universities is periodically assessed by quality assurance agencies, but who checks the quality of these agencies? The answer to this question is the European Quality Assurance Register in Higher Education (EQAR), which is officially launched in Brussels on 4 March 2008. The Register will be operational by summer 2008, and is governed and co-funded by a non-profit association of stakeholders, social partners and governments.

The Member States of the EU are also participants in the Bologna Process, the ambitious programme of reform in higher education throughout Europe and beyond. The Bologna Process now involves 46 countries, from Ireland to Azerbaijan, and aims to create a single European Higher Education Area, by removing obstacles to student and academic mobility and developing a system of easily readable and comparable degrees that simplify comparison between qualifications across Europe. A fundamentally important part of the Bologna Process is quality assurance, the need to ensure high standards of higher education across Europe.

The European Quality Assurance Register in Higher Education (EQAR) responds to the need for quality assurance in Europe's higher education systems.

Of course, Member States already have quality assurance agencies of one sort or another. The EQAR will serve as an instrument to improve the quality of those national quality assurance agencies and allow higher education institutions to choose between different agencies, if that is compatible with national arrangements.

The European Register will list the quality assurance agencies that substantially comply with a specific set of standards that have been approved at European level: the so-called European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance. These are valid in all the 46 countries that participate in the Bologna Process.

Speaking at the launch today in Brussels, Ján Figel', European Commissioner responsible for education, youth and culture said: "The Register is an important element in the chain of information tools that are needed to make European higher education more transparent and more attractive for our own citizens and for students and scholars from other continents. I welcome the launch of the register because it enhances the 'quality culture' in higher education, which will in turn benefit Europe as a whole."

EQAR is founded by the so-called 'E4 Group', named after the letter 'E' that features in the acronyms of the four bodies involved: the European associations of higher education institutions (EUA, EURASHE), students (ESU) and quality assurance agencies (ENQA) [1].

The establishment of the EQAR Register is endorsed by the Ministers from the 46 European countries which participate in the Bologna Process and implements the Recommendation of the European Parliament and the Council of 15 February 2006 on further European cooperation in quality assurance in higher education.

The Register, which will be operational by summer 2008, will be governed and co-funded by a non-profit association of stakeholders, social partners and Bologna signatory countries. Admission decisions will be taken by an independent Register Committee. Agencies will pay a registration fee and the European Commission will provide start-up funding through the Erasmus Programme. The agencies may be public or private, but they will work independently and publish the results of their assessments.

* * *

For more information on the EQAR Register please contact:

colin.tueck@eqar.eu
Project manager of EQAR
Tel: +32 2 2335 413
www.eqar.eu
For more information on the EU involvement in the Bologna Process:

http://ec.europa.eu/education/policies/educ/bologna/bologna_en.html
Or contact:

peter.van-der-hijden@ec.europa.eu
Head of Sector Higher Education
Directorate-General for Education and Culture
Tel: + 32 2 29 65 229
For more information on quality assurance:

Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area:
http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/hogeronderwijs/bologna/about/Standards-and-Guidelines-for-QA.pdf

Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 February 2006 on further European cooperation in quality assurance in higher education (2006/142/EC):
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2006:064:0060:0062:EN:PDF


[1] European University Association (EUA), European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE), European Students’ Union (ESU), European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA)


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