Why a European Approach for QA of European Universities?
In December 2017, the European Council called on Member States, the Council and the Commission to take forward a number of initiatives, including '…strengthening strategic partnerships across the EU between higher education institutions and encouraging the emergence by 2024 of some twenty 'European Universities', consisting in bottom-up networks of universities across the EU which will enable students to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries and contribute to the international competitiveness of European universities'.
During the Education Council of 15 February 2018, Ministers showed support for the initiative, noting that it should be aiming at quality and excellence while at the same time securing geographical balance across the EU and involving universities from all Member States. They underlined the link between education and research as an important principle. From this perspective, the European Universities initiative is a game changer for national authorities and QA agencies. The call for proposals for European Universities was published on 24 October 2018 (2019-EAC/A03/2018). The programme guide states: 'Quality assurance must be an embedded component to ensure that European Universities successfully deliver the expected results and achieve an impact going far beyond the impact an individual partner organisation could achieve.'
This is also one of the great challenges for external quality assurance (QA) and for QA agencies. Their QA methodologies need to fit the development of European Universities. QA agencies need to be able to address and assess the quality of European Universities without impeding HE innovativeness and autonomy. The EUniQ project supports QA agencies in addressing these evolving methodological challenges. It intends to provide a roadmap for QA agencies to jointly develop a QA methodology for European Universities, from a needs analysis to a developed QA approach. By providing a developed QA methodology, the EUniQ project will provide HE institutions and European Universities certainty about and confidence in external QA.