EU Member States must shift from a box-ticking approach and upgrade their quality systems if they want to improve the performance of universities and vocational colleges, according to two European Commission reports on quality assurance in higher education and vocational training.
The reports, published on 28 January, highlight that, although progress has been achieved, further reforms are needed to ensure a 'quality culture' so that teaching is more closely aligned with labour market realities and societal needs.
‘Quality assurance is the basis for building trust in our education systems and we need to make greater use of its potential as a catalyst to modernise our universities and vocational education colleges. Our aim is to drive up standards in a way that encourages diversity and employability rather than uniformity,’ said, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou.
The report on the European quality assurance reference framework for vocational education (EQAVET) shows that it has helped develop a quality culture, through support such as an online tool, build and monitor quality assurance systems, and by encouraging the sharing of experience and best practice through the EQAVET network.
But further action is needed to make quality assurance more transparent and increase mutual trust in qualifications awarded in different countries.
This would help vocational students and workers to get their skills, competences and qualifications recognised abroad. Priority areas for further cooperation include improving the quality assurance of work-based learning, including apprenticeships, and in defining and assessing learning outcomes.
Erasmus+, the new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport, will provide funding for Member States to develop their quality assurance systems in higher and vocational education, identify successful practices and support European cooperation in this field. Member States can use money from the European Structural and Investment Funds to improve quality assurance.