• Ei tuloksia

Results and consequences

Part II: Agency reports

Standard 4: The quality management system is based on the quality approach of the higher education institution and provides for the systematic involve -

II.7 German Accreditation Council (GAC)

5.3 Results and consequences

The comprehensive evaluation of the initial experience with system accredi- tation was, and still is, of great interest, especially to higher education insti tutions. The full publication of the evaluation report was particularly helpful in responding to this interest, and formed a sound basis to debate

Friederike Leetz

the development of both system accreditation and the accreditation system as a whole. Additionally, it is likely to have a positive influence on the com- prehensibility, viability and level of acceptance of the provisions for system accreditation.

The findings from the five-year pilot phase have already been used to further develop system accreditation, to increase the effectiveness and effi- ciency of the procedure, and to improve its level of acceptance. In doing so, it is, however, important to note that only some readjustment measures were needed since the overall approach has been proven to be effective. Hence, indi- vidual procedural components such as the prerequisites for admission and the samples were readjusted according to the results of the evaluation. In partic - ular, both were formulated more clearly, and integration into the overall pro- cedure was improved. Special attention was also given to the procedure’s flex- ibility, so that procedural routines can be better coordinated with the needs of the system to be accredited. This applies to both the on-site visits and to the samples. This scope for adjustment was combined with greater empowerment of the experts. While this must not have a negative effect on the comparability of the procedures, the standards for the selection and briefing of experts as well as transparency requirements for reports were refined at the same time.

There were no substantial changes to the criteria, although require- ments for cooperation in the field of learning and teaching were addressed more explicitly. Finally, system accreditation was opened up further to study- related organisational units within higher education institutions (such as faculties and schools) in order to support intermediate steps towards the establishment of quality assurance systems encompassing higher education institutions as a whole.

The further development of system accreditation was successfully concluded in spring 2013 and has already been taken into account in this publication.

Quality Audit in Europe 2013

6 Current and future challenges and developments

It should be stressed that the evaluation of the first experiences of system accreditation only represents an initial review, which resulted in readjustment measures concerning undeniable issues. Despite this progress, the findings from the five-year pilot phase clearly indicate further challenges related to the introduction of an entirely new approach to external quality assurance in higher education. While the consequent implementation of system accredita - tion might bring on others or even new, some of those challenges shall be outlined at this point.

In particular, a common understanding is needed by all involved in the process not only of the requirements for the procedural routines and the criteria, but particularly the underlying intended effects. Increased communi- cation and a better dialogue between the parties to the procedure will remove uncertainties, especially those associated with new procedural components like the samples and the criteria for system accreditation. This explicitly affects the briefing of experts - although experts are familiar with accreditation procedures, the findings from the evaluation of the first experiences of system accreditation point out that the shift in perspective is currently challenging. In contrast to programme accreditation, which is a direct assessment and certifi- cation of the quality of a particular study programme, experts are confronted with a much more complex cause-effect mechanism when assessing internal processes and structures of a higher education institution for their suitability for evaluating, securing and continuously enhancing quality. Exercising care in the selection and briefing of experts is therefore particularly significant, and there are some ideas of facilitating networking, through, for instance, a collective pool of experts.

In addition to procedural issues, there are also far-reaching challenges related to the overall higher education system. For system accreditation this affects, first of all, the development and implementation of compre - hensive internal quality assurance systems at higher education institutions.

Although several tools and mechanisms are effectively in use, their system - atic integration into integrated concepts poses challenges which should not be underestimated. Furthermore, the development of internal quality assurance systems in the area of learning and teaching appears to affect other

Friederike Leetz

performance areas in higher education institutions. These side effects mean that system accreditation should be coordinated with other quality assurance procedures in higher education, perhaps to avoid possible conflicts in the evaluation process, too. In this context, the dual external review of private higher education institutions striving for state recognition has already been discussed critically, and measures were put in place to facilitate coordination.

However, the further implementation of system accreditation may reveal potential links not only in the area of learning and teaching, but also within the higher education sector as a whole.

Finally, it is hardly necessary to point out that in the long term the question of to what extent system accreditation achieves its intended effects will need to be considered. However, this does not only mean monitoring the procedure’s influence on the development of management and quality assurance systems at higher education institutions. As the requirements on a systemic level should in the end influence positively the quality of teaching and learning, an evaluation of the procedure always involves the question of the impact and/or perception at a study programme level. This implies addi- tional complexity for the ‘impact question’ in external quality assurance, which is in any case difficult to answer.

II.8 Norwegian Agency for Quality