The role of standards and recommendations of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) in achieving the goals of Bologna process

The Bologna process aims to help diverse higher education systems converge towards more transparent systems to create a harmonised European Higher Education area. The Bologna process had started already in the middle of 1970s when the Council of the European Union adopted a resolution on the first collaboration programme in education. The Bologna process officially started on June 19th, 1999, with the signing of the Bologna declaration by Education Ministers from 29 European countries. The process is open to other countries’ signatory. Further governmental meetings have been held in Prague (2001), Berlin (2003), Bergen (2005), London (2007), and Leuven (2009). The Bologna Process currently has 47 participating countries.

Russia joined the Bologna process in September, 2003 at the meeting of Ministers of Education from EU countries in Berlin. In 2005 the Bologna declaration was signed by the Minister of Education of Ukraine in Bergen. In 2010 Kazakhstan took the final decision on joining the Bologna process in Budapest.

The main goals of the Bologna process:

  • to create the European Higher Education area as a key way to promote citizens’ mobility and employability.
  • to increase the quality of education.
  • to ensure competitiveness of the European universities with other systems of education in their attempts to attract students and resources for training.
  • to achieve greater compatibility of national higher education systems.
  • to develop and strengthen intellectual, cultural, social, scientific and technical potential of European countries; to raise the status of the European system of higher education in the world.
  • to increase the key role of universities in the development of European cultural values, in which universities are seen as carriers of European consciousness.

The Bologna declaration has 7 key points:

  • promotion of European cooperation in quality assurance of higher education.
  • introduction of internal education quality assurance evaluation system and attraction of all the interested parties (academic community, state, students, employers) to external independent evaluation of universities’ activities.
  • introduction of a system of comprehensible and comparable degrees, particularly through introduction of a Diploma Supplement, that ensures the employment of citizens and increase in international competitiveness of the European higher education system.
  • introduction of a two-cycle system of education, the first leading to Bachelor’s degree and the second — to Master’s degree.
  • introduction of a credit point transfer and accumulation system to support large-scale students’ mobility (the system of credits). The system also allows students to choose a course they would like to study (elective courses). ECTS (European Credit Transfer System), taken as a basis, is an accumulation system facilitating «life-long learning» concept.
  • development of student and academic staff mobility by accepting work experience they received in the European region. Development and introduction of the standards of transnational education.
  • support and development of a traditional European approach to higher education particularly in development of curriculums, inter-institutional cooperation, mobility schemes and joint educational programmes, practical training and scientific research.

One of the key aims of the Bologna process is to integrate all the European quality standards for higher education and create a system of European cooperation in education quality assurance. In 2000 a European Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) was established by countries participating in the Bologna process to achieve these aims. The idea for the association originated from the European Pilot Project for Evaluating Quality in Higher Education (1994-95) which demonstrated the value of sharing and developing experience in quality assurance. Subsequently, the idea was given momentum by the Recommendation of the Council (98/561/EC of 24 September 1998) on European cooperation in quality assurance in higher education and by the Bologna Declaration of 1999.

In March 2000, after General Assembly of ENQA had adopted regulations and strategy, ENQA became the main organization in Europe coordinating quality assurance in higher education within the Bologna process. In November 2004 General Assembly of ENQA transformed the Network into the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education. ENQA is also a consultative member of the Bologna Follow-Up Group (BFUG).

The main objectives of ENQA:

  • to maintain and develop information and experience exchange in quality assurance concerning methodical research and best practice exchange in particular.
  • to contribute to the development of the system of independent quality assurance agencies and independent accreditation agencies in education.
  • to contribute to the development of quality assurance procedures in transnational European higher education.
  • to conduct independent evaluation on request of European ministers of education, national and regional public authorities or other organizations working within the frameworks of the Bologna process.
  • to function as a political forum developing and approving standards, procedures and guidelines in quality assurance for further introduction into education systems of the countries participating in the Bologna process.
  • to contribute to the creation of the European Higher Education area.

In 2003, in the Berlin Communiqué, ENQA received a double mandate from the Ministers of the countries that signed the Bologna Declaration «to explore ways of ensuring an adequate peer review system for quality assurance agencies» and «to develop an agreed set of standards, procedures and guidelines on quality assurance» in collaboration with EUA, EURAHSE and ESIB. Executing this mandate, ENQA published European Standards and Guidelines (ESG) for independent quality assurance agencies in the European Higher Education area. It should be mentioned that this document was approved by the Ministers of Education in Bergen (Norway) in May 2005.

In 2007 ENQA Council granted the Agency for Higher Education Quality Assurance and Career (AKKORK), Russian independent accreditation agency, an associate status within ENQA.

AKKORK’s mission, goals, objectives and performance comply with mission and key goals of ENQA and requirements imposed on accreditation agencies by ENQA. AKKORK’s staff and experts participate in conferences, seminars, round tables organised by ENQA in order to exchange experience and best practices in quality assurance. AKKORK takes into account realities of education services and labour market in Russia, therefore AKKORK’s evaluation is an effective tool used by the administration of educational institution for eliminating problems and drawbacks in education quality assurance and detection of resource zones of development and strengthening competitive edge in the education services market. As AKKORK has significant practical experience and applies multistandard approach, the outcomes of its expertise can be used not only by universities and colleges but also by employers and state institutions.


In Russia, there are procedures for state and not state accreditation.

From 1 January 2011 the Russian legislation foresees public and public - professional accreditation.

State accreditation is organized and carried out by the State education authorities of the Russian Federation. Public and public - professional accreditation is carried out by the Russian, foreign and international educational, scientific and public organizations.

In  the Bologna Process documents terms state, public and public -professional accreditation are not applicable. The basic definitions are independent review of education quality and independent accreditation. Within the meaning of the phenomenon the most appropriate equivalent of an independent accreditation in Russia's concept is a public (public-professional) accreditation.

AKKORK is an agency that conducts an independent evaluation of the education quality at the program and institutional levels, public accreditation and participates in public - professional accreditation.

In Russia state and public (public-professional) accreditation procedures are voluntary. Universities/academies/institutes are not required by law to pass either the state or public (public-professional) accreditation. Mandatory procedure in the Russian Federation is the licensing of educational activity.

However, it is desirable for an educational institution regularly undergo procedures of the state and the public (public-professional) accreditation, an external independent evaluation of the education quality.

In accordance with Russian legislation the experts reports produced within the non state accreditation procedures are considered within the framework of the state accreditation procedures. 

It should also be noted that in accordance with the Russian legislation in such activities as: state supervision over compliance with legislation of the Russian Federation on education, control over compliance with licensing requirements and conditions, state control over the education quality could be involved experts and expert organizations, accredited in accordance with rules approved by the Government of the Russian Federation . AKKORK on July 8, 2011 received the proper accreditation in the Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science. 

 

 

 

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