Modernisation, Education and Human Rights
Start date: Sep 1, 2016,
End date: Aug 31, 2019
Policy-making: shaping the future of European Quality Assurance (QA) in Higher Education and Human Capital could be the "elevator pitch" of the present project: Modernisation, Education and Human Rights. The European Consortium for Accreditation in Higher Education (ECA) aims for the mutual recognition of accreditation and QA decisions. To achieve this aim, ECA develops common principles for accreditation organisations. One of these topics deals with the use of LO and their assessment in accreditation procedures and has been developed by ECA Working Group 4. Building on evidence-based foundation, the present project intends to develop a Quality Assurance Guide (QUAG) on assessing LO on HR. This will enable QAAs to undertake a self-assessment of their performance regarding the assessment of LO on HR in their accreditation practices. Particular focus is placed on the recognition of qualifications and employability policies. In this sense, any QAA can obtain a more faithful estimation of its activities in relation to LO assessment, in a comparative perspective. This, in turn, will allow European QAAs and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to reflect upon their practices in areas which will have emerged as needing attention. In Europe, the Bologna Process in its more recent discourse has given pride-of-place to LO and these have been described as a fundamental building block of the reforms. One fundamental purpose of LO refers to their function as qualification descriptors to develop a framework of comparable qualifications for their higher education systems. Another development in the Bologna reforms pertinent for this project has been the elaboration of the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG) for QA by ENQA in 2005. Consequently, LO now feature in the quality assessment and accreditation procedures for HE programmes in several countries. Nonetheless, the degree of implementation and embedding of LO varies widely among countries, while the level of understanding among academics in Europe remains overall low. The value of the MEHR project resides in its proposed exploration of the QAAs’ attention to the definition and usage of LO of HR in higher education institutions, as revealed by their evaluative practices. Previous projects focused on, and were targeted to, higher education institutions exclusively. In contrast, MEHR targets both QAAs, and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs); particularly through the insight the project can give into how these employ LO in their everyday practices. The Project consortium gathers institutions from three European countries of different size, educational traditions and structures of higher education systems as well as different levels of development on LO assessment tools and procedures, and one international organisation located in Belgium (ESIB). This variety allows gaining new knowledge from comparative analysis. The core of the present partnership is occupied by a selection of accreditation agencies of ECA, WG4. The Swedish Agency – UKÄ – took the initiative to present the project as coordinator. The partnership was created, first by agencies and for agencies members of ECA but it includes other relevant stakeholders, like higher education institutions and a students’ organization - ESIB. The partnership meets the aims of the project and takes into account the scope of the project gathering together different kinds of institutions and stakeholders with a common feature: all of them have former experiences in the topic – LO assessment – and have been involved in the development of theoretical research or/and implementation tools, as users or target groups. The Project also takes into account the perceptions of a broader scope of stakeholders besides the partners of the consortium. This will include contacts with EUA, HEIs, EURASHE, BFUG, Governments, EC, ESIB (students), QAAs, ENQA, ECA, Business Europe (labor market), FEANI, CEPIS, EUR-ACE, EURO-INF, and Tuning Project among others. For the participating organisations the project will strengthen their skills in the field of LO assessment on HR; for the research and teaching institutions, the project will correspond to an advance in the state of the art in the field of LO; for QAAs and ECA the production of the "QUAG", available for member agencies and others will represent a significant step forwards in the development of its mission; the project will also promote the dialogue between national agencies and higher education institutions, enabling the exchange of best practices across cultural contexts, as well as developing suitable methods for comparing practices of LO assessment across Europe, building a better understanding for how Agencies (QAAs) and higher education institutions can improve LO assessment methodologies.
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