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Internal Quality Management: Evaluating and Improving Competence-Based Higher Education
Start date: Sep 1, 2015, End date: Aug 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The EU programme Erasmus+ aims to improve the quality and efficiency of European education systems. The proposed project will establish an international strategic partnership to consider quality management measures suitable for use in institutions of higher education. By involving experts from within and outside institutions of higher education, a robust and trustworthy procedure for quality management will be developed, tested and disseminated. The issues of competence-based teaching in institutions of higher education and its evaluation are coming increasingly into the focus of debate, especially in the European Union. This is also reflected by the “Standards and Guidelines for Quality Management in European Higher Education Institutions”(European Standards and Guidlines; ENQA, 2009) which are currently being revised. However, evaluation instruments often assess only single student competencies or specific elements of the teaching process. The aim of the proposed project is to provide a more comprehensive internal quality management procedure (short “IQM procedure”) that can contribute to sustainable improvement of competence-based teaching in institutions of higher education. Furthermore, the IQM procedure will address issues of the revised European standards and guidelines (e.g. basic and transversal skills or the EU transparency and recognition tools). The IQM procedure primarily addresses institutions of higher education that have developed and implemented a competence-based curriculum, as the number of such institutions is growing rapidly. It will be primarily designed for internal quality management at institutions of higher education, to be undertaken by internal evaluators or quality managers. The three concrete objectives of the project are: 1. Developing a European Toolkit for internal quality management in competence-based higher education that addresses the European standards and guidelines as well as EU transparency and recognition tools. 2. The participating institutions of higher education will have started a pilot project to implement and test the internal quality management procedure. 3. The European Toolkit will be available for European higher education institutions. A total of ten institutions will participate: Five institutions form the so-called implementation team: (1) University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, (2) University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, (3) University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, (4) University of Oldenburg, Germany, and (5) Vilnius University, Lithuania. These five institutions have experience with competence-based teaching and are interested in implementing an internal quality management procedure for competence-based teaching. The University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, which is the coordinating institution, has experience with a scientific pilot study on competence-based evaluation instruments. The activities of the implementation team are (a) developing the tools of the European Toolkit (templates for workshop procedures, questionnaires, reports, etc.), (b) implementing and testing the European Toolkit at their higher education institutions, and (c) disseminating the European Toolkit to a mostly local target audience. The other five institutions form the expert team: (6) ENQA, (7) EAEVE, (8) AQ Austria, (9) Bologna experts from the University of Economics and Business, Vienna, and (10) evaluation experts from the University of Vienna. The expert team has international expertise in quality assurance in higher education and brings different perspectives of quality management. The expert team (a) substantially participates in developing the tool “Practical Guidelines”, (b) continually reviews the other tools developed by the implementation team, (c) gives advice in the implementation phase and (d) disseminates the European Toolkit to a mostly international target audience. The most important result of the project will be the European Toolkit, including practical guidelines on how to implement internal quality management for competence-based teaching as well as a template for an online questionnaire to collect data on student competencies and competence-based teaching. The project will impact the project participants (e.g. by integrating different perspectives on quality management) and the participating organizations (e.g. by anchoring the standards of quality assurance associations in the procedure), as well as the ultimate target group, which is European institutions of higher education that will receive information on the IQM procedure and access to the European Toolkit. The potential longer-term benefits are wide-ranging. The most important benefit is that European institutions of higher education can implement the IQM procedure for competence-based teaching by using the European Toolkit and hence assure high student competencies.

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