Clear trend within quality auditing in Europe

Several quality assurance agencies in Europe are increasingly using risk-based models and conducting targeted assessments. This is the conclusion of UKÄ department head Karin Järplid Linde, who took part in ENQA’s annual meeting in Gloucester.

Karin Järplid Linde

Karin Järplid Linde

Karin Järplid Linde, head of the Quality Assurance Department at the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ), saw at the meeting that many quality organisations have to be more aware of their local political and national conditions. For example, countries may have economic problems, which affects the organisation’s resources and their working methods.

One clear trend is that more quality assurance organisations are using risk-based models. They collect data based on different indicators to identify problem areas at higher education institutions. They choose to target selected areas where they believe there is a risk of insufficient quality. As such, these countries do not conduct the same comprehensive assessments or have the same development focus that we have in Sweden, says Karin Järplid Linde.

Earlier this year, Karin Järplid Linde served as an assessor on behalf of ENQA in the review of the Danish Accreditation Institution. All members of ENQA are evaluated every five years to ensure that they live up to the standards and guidelines required for membership.

When I participated in the assessment of the Danish equivalent of the UKÄ, it became apparent how major political issues impact the quality organisation. It is a complex issue and something that the organisation must continually manage. This case dealt with how the country has chosen to organise its governance of higher education with multiple active parties, says Karin Järplid Linde.

One year with the new ESG

During ENQA’s annual meeting, a panel discussed the impact of last year’s revision of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ESG).

When I participated in the Danish audit, our assessment was based on the new ESG criteria. My impression is that the approach is very similar to the previous standards and guidelines. During the panel discussion, participants often mentioned “evolution rather than revolution”. The new ESG are thus more an evolution of the previous criteria and do not represent a revolution for ENQA membership, says Karin Järplid Linde.

Lots of interest in the Swedish system

Karin Järplid Linde also presented Sweden’s new quality assurance system at several seminar sessions.

It sparked a lot of interest. The seminars were well attended and we received lots of questions about the method we’ve developed.

Sweden is currently an affiliated member of the European Network.

We will apply for full membership to the ENQA now that we have launched a completely new quality assurance system. Currently, we have not yet decided when we will submit the application, says Karin Järplid Linde. 

ENQA is a European evaluation organisation working for quality assurance in European higher education.