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«This document is property of ANECA. The contents may be used provided that the source is quoted. V.1 02/12/2011 INDEX 1. BACKGROUND AND APPROACH 2. ...»

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Report on the activities of

the Quality Dimension

January – November 2011

This document is property of ANECA. The contents may be used provided that the source is quoted.

V.1 02/12/2011






2 V.1_02/12/2010


This report covers the activities accomplished within the Quality Dimension of the JISER-MED Project from January to November 2011. These initiatives have been co-ordinated by ANECA as the partner of the Project in charge of the Quality Dimension and have been aligned with the Universitat of Barcelona institution in charge of co-ordinating the project.

Furthermore, a special attention is paid to the strengthening alliances with some quality assurance agencies from Southern Europe in order to build a platform with the bodies in charge of the external quality assurance processes in the countries of the higher education institutions involved in the Project.

This approach is highly in the agenda of the main international quality assurance networks which ANECA belongs to: the European Association for Quality Assurance, ENQA, one of the stakeholders’ within the European Higher Education Area; and the International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies for Higher Education, INQAAHE, the global organisation where the different regional networks convene.

The current strategy within these multinational bodies, deals with two of the

main objectives defined in the quality dimension of the JISER-Med project:

1. Promoting capacity building among those countries or regions lacking formalised quality assurance mechanisms at both the internal and external level

2. Exploring the definition of shared harmonised criteria on external quality assurance at the regional level 3 V.1_02/12/2010 The first objective is largely included in the general focus of the JISER-MED Project as far as some of the higher education institutions (HEI) involved in the project are included within areas where formalised quality assurance mechanisms have not yet been implemented. Putting the HIEs at the very centre of the Project, the Quality Dimension will adequate its messages and analysis to be readable and feasible to all institutions regardless the quality assurance context they belong to. The experience of some of theagencies taking part in the project in promoting and supporting internal quality assurance systems at the institutional level as part of their national strategy, but also in collaboration scenarios at the international one.

The second objective, although not included explicitly in the rationale of the JISER-MED Project, is a natural consequence of the first one and, more precisely, turns into a favourable synergy for the Project as a whole and particularly for a future possible offspring of JISER-MED. The definition of harmonised quality assurance criteria or standards as a way to foster international cooperation and to facilitate the building of higher education areas, is one of the main working areas for the networks all over the world.

After the pioneer work represented by the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance of Higher Education (ESG) defined by the E-4 Group within the framework of the European Higher Education Area and approved by the ministries of the Bologna Process in the Bergen Communiqué in May 2005, other associations and networks have made a similar effort in putting together similarities on quality assurance principles to advance in higher education collaboration, while the natural national differences could also be maintained as part of the need for idiosyncratic cultural higher education environments.

The identification of these generic criteria would immediately favour mobility of students and graduates from HEIs and systems aligned to

–  –  –

This approach was submitted by Zulima Fernández, Director of ANECA in the International Seminar JISER-MED, The state of the Euro-Mediterranean Higher Education Area, organised by the University of Barcelona, as coordinator of the Project in Barcelona ion 17 January 2011 and was the first official act of the Project.

The JISER-MED Project allows working out these criteria in a very unique context, the crossroads comprised by the regions surrounding the Mediterranean Basin: Southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

JISER-MED is in an unique position of reflecting on the possibility to identify a small group of core criteria shared by the stakeholders involved in the project with such a different cultural and historical backgrounds, in order to subsequently define them in a more particular way within the framework of the project whether the time span allows it.

With this objective ahead, JISER-MED could be placed at the spearhead the inter-networks dialogue and the debate on the general quality assurance criteria at the international level, providing with particular and empirical work to support advances in this field.



In order to achieve the aforementioned objectives established by the Director of ANECA Prof. Zulima Fernández. ANECA contacted the following

quality assurance agencies of the countries participating in the Project:

Agence d’évaluation de la recherche et de l’enseignement supérieur, AERES 5 V.1_02/12/2010 (France), Agència per a la qualitat del sistema universitari de Catalunya, AQU-Catalunya (Catalonia, Spain) and the Agència de Qualitat de l'Ensenyament Superior d'Andorra AQUA (Andorra) from the European side.

Throughout the development of the project, contacts were also made with the Higher Education Accreditation Commission, HEAC of Jordan as the only existing agency in the Near East.

The definition of this platform could be considered as a collateral benefit of the Project towards the awareness of a real Euro-Mediterranean quality assurance environment. This group of agencies could bring their experiences from the European quality assurance theatre to reinforce the debate to advance in the building of a Euro-Mediterranean higher education area proposing a particular approach to the three-region context.

The intention of the members of this platform is to incorporate other bodies in charge of quality assurance policies, apart from the agencies, in those countries where these structures have not been set up, such as the case of the North African countries.

The purpose of this platform is not to promote the creation of quality assurance agencies in the countries where these bodies do not exist.

Rather, to contribute to the enhancement of quality assurance mechanisms at the internal level of the higher education institutions on the one hand, and at the external level with regard to the evaluation procedures defined in the area.

Meeting of the representatives of the University of Barcelona and the Director and representatives of ANECA with the Minister of Higher Education and Research and the President of the Higher Education Accreditation Council of Jordan. 30th and 31st May 2011.

From the point of view of the Quality Dimension of the Project, the visit had a twofold objective: on the one hand, to invite the Minister of Higher 6 V.1_02/12/2010 Education and Research, Dr. Wajih M. Owais, to the Seminar on the Quality Dimension included in the proposal of the Project that would be held in Amman in November 2011; and, on the other hand, to invite the President of the Higher Education Accreditation Council of Jordan, Professor Munib M.

Saket, to play a more active role in the JISER-MED Project as a whole, as the only agency establish in the Middle East, as well as to take part in the JISER-QA Group.

JISER-QA Meeting, Madrid, 14th June 2011 In order to achieve this goal, the quality assurance platform of JISER-MED (hereafter, JISER-QA) met in Madrid on 14th June 2011. The main outcome of this meeting can be summarised as follows.

1. The Quality Dimension should focus on the internal QA mechanisms of the higher education institutions (henceforth HEI) involved in JISER-MED and it should also be closely linked to the broad

objectives and rationale identified in the Project:

JISER-MED will establish and develop synergies and long-standing relations between the EU and the MED region by: (i) improving services for MED students and doctoral candidates in EU HE; (ii) increasing the international dimension of quality assurance for HE from a Mediterranean perspective, (iii) Strengthening relations between European higher education and research; (iv) contributing to the interdisciplinary policy debate in furtherance of increased participation and mutual understanding among different stakeholders of both regions.

2. An emphasis is made on the fact that the international dimension of QA should not only be a means in itself but a driving force to promote and recognise the international capacities of universities in the area.

Therefore, the QA Dimension should be oriented to the general objectives of the project. It must also deal with a twofold objective in terms of internationalization: QA agencies produce international

–  –  –

3. This issue stems directly with the problem of recognition on a broader sense. Recognition is therefore embedded in the whole project in different levels: recognition of study periods, recognition and jointprogrammes and the practicalities and restrictions derived from mobility.

4. The group agrees that the first step of the working group on the QA Dimension of the Project would be to define the state-of-the-art of the internal QA processes in the HEIs that take part in the Project.

This could help to identify common trends in internal QA processes in the Euro-Mediterranean Area at the HEI level.

5. Once this goal at the institutional level has been achieved, the focus will be shifted on the corresponding national frameworks that define the external processes and their regional architectures, where they have been defined: Southern Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. This could lead to identify broad standards at the regional level favouring the inter-regional dialogue on QA issues (ENQA-ANQAHEINQAAHE).

6. The group agrees on the importance of building a common approach within the Euro-Med Region on Quality Assurance as a tool to achieve the general goals of higher education in the region. It makes a plea for the need to avoid the European approach on internal and external QA principles oriented to achieve refined procedures but forgetting the final product and the specific quality goals of the programme/institution, the students and employers.

The JISER-QA Group also discussed an agenda for the Quality Dimension of the Project. There was a general agreement on aligning the QA Dimension

–  –  –

The group agrees in defining a questionnaire on the internal QA processes to be aimed at their HEIs to draw a map of the current mechanisms in the three areas of the Project. This map could also be used as a framework for the external QA processes to be applied at the Project level.

The discussion then goes on the minimum number of items that will allow the working group to set up the diagnosis of the internal QA mechanisms of the HEIs involved.

The Group agrees using the surveys already designed within the European Higher Education Area, such as the Data Collection on Quality Assurance which is part of the stock-taking material for the Ministerial Conference of 2012, although the main focus is on the external processes could provide a reference point at the European level with the Standards and Guidelines as main background. Others proposals tested at the national level, such as the Spanish reference for internal QA systems established in the legal

framework for programme accreditation will be also taken into account:

Quality assurance system The information included under this clause can be aimed at either a particular QA system at the programme level or at the higher education institution level.

–  –  –

f) Specific criteria in case the programme will be cancelled.

All these proposals share the European Standards and Guidelines as a reference point from the European theatre.

The group agrees in defining a short questionnaire including those basic references to the existence of mechanisms within the HEIs oriented to provide with feedback to the management, academic and administrative staff for reviewing and improving the level of performance. Furthermore, the questionnaire should focus on the existence of national and/or international frameworks to define external QA mechanisms at the institutional or programme level.

Finally, the JISER-QA Group discuss a first draft of the agenda of the JISERMED Conference on Quality Assurance, Employability and Internationalisation, coorganised along with the Princess Sumaya University for Technology in Amman, Jordan on the 21st and 22nd November 2011.

The group discussed the different sessions which the Conference will be divided in as well as the profile of the speakers. The members agreed on sending the draft proposal to the co-ordinators of the JISER-MED Project in the University of Barcelona, as well as Abdullah Al-Zoubi, co-ordinator of the organization o the Conference in the Princess Sumaya University (PSUT).

–  –  –

The focus of this meeting was to discuss in detail the draft agenda of the Conference in November submitted by the JISER-QA Group after its meeting in June.

The meeting is organised in Madrid by ANECA and take part representatives from OBREAL, University of Barcelona, ANECA and PSUT.

Over the meeting, Professor Al-Zoubi suggests the names of the Jordanian experts that could take part in the different sessions of the conference.

Furthermore, he informs that the Minister of Higher Education and Research, Dr. Wajih M. Owais, has been replaced in his position by Dr.

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