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Examining quality culture in higher education institutions (EQC)

Together with its partners HRK German Rectors’ conference and QAA Scotland, EUA carried out the project entitled: Examining quality culture in higher education institutions (EQC) from October 2009 to February 2012. 

1. Aims of the project

The aim of the project was twofold:

1) to identify internal quality assurance processes in place in HEIs, paying particular interest to how the institutions have implemented the part of the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ESGs) dedicated to internal QA within HEIs.

2) to discuss the dynamics between the development of institutional quality culture and quality assurance processes while identifying and presenting case practices in a final report in order to disseminate them.

2. Activities and timeline

The project activities were divided into two phases which corresponded to the aims of the project:

Phase 1 (2010): In this first phase of the project the focus was on mapping the existing quality assurance processes through a survey that was launched to gather quantitative evidence to reach the first aim of identifying existing quality assurance processes. The survey was conducted during spring 2010 and the results were published in a report that was published in November 2010.

The full report on the results from Phase 1 is available here.

Phase 2 (2010-2011): The second phase focused on establishing the relationship between formal quality assurance processes and quality culture, based on a set of interviews conducted in the first half of 2011 with a selection of HEIs across Europe. The results were presented in a study which illustrates its findings with concrete examples of practices in the area.

The second project report, published in September 2011, is available here.

Final Project Workshop, Edinburgh, United Kingdom (15-17 February 2012): As a final phase in the project, the partners organised a workshop which provided an opportunity for quality managers to explore the practical applicability of the conclusions that have come out of the project, as well as to discuss challenges and good practices in developing quality cultures in various institutions.

The presentations from the workshop are available for download here:

The report from the workshop is available here.

3. Background

The quality of European higher education is at the heart of the European Higher Education Area and European countries have committed to supporting the development of quality assurance (QA) at institutional, national and European level. In the Berlin communiqué the ministers of education acknowledged that the “primary responsibility for quality assurance in higher education lies with each institution itself”.

Since the Berlin ministerial meeting European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG) have been developed by the E4 group (ENQA, EUA, EURASHE and ESU) and adopted by ministers of education in Bergen in 2005. ESG provides a common European ground for quality assurance at institutional and national level.

Each of the signatory countries has developed national QA systems for higher education and good information exists on these external QA systems. The European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR), founded in 2008, will provide information on which QA agencies operating in Europe have proven their credibility and reliability in a review against the ESG. Until the EQC project, no overall study had been made on how HEIs across the 46 Bologna signatories have actually responded to the standards identified by the ESG. This project tackled this question and provided HEIs, policy makers as well as other stakeholders, for the first time, with an overall picture on the internal quality assurance processes actually in place within HEIs. This information will be useful for the further development of the quality of European higher education.

4. Contact

For any questions or further information on the EQC project, please contact


With the support of the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Union (Erasmus/Multilateral Projects).

The EC funds shall contribute a maximum of 133.657,77 EUR, equivalent to 75% of the total budget.

European University Association (EUA)

Brussels office:
Avenue de l’Yser, 24
1040 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0) 2 230 55 44

Geneva office:
114, Rue du Rhône
Case postale 3174
1211 Geneva 3
Tel: +41 22 552 02 96