The Quality Culture Project, funded by the Socrates Programme, was one of the responses that EUA devised to increase the capacity of universities to meet the accountability needs and the heightened demands upon higher education to deliver more, with greater levels of quality, despite diminishing resources.
The project lasted for four years and included three rounds. 134 higher education institutions grouped in 18 networks were involved.
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The Quality Culture Project contributed to the development and embedding of a systematic and coherent quality culture in universities as well as to the general goals of the Bologna process through increased transparency and attractiveness of European higher education. It has increased the awareness within the institutions for the need to develop an internal quality culture and to promote the introduction of internal quality management.
The choice of title – “Quality Culture” – was deliberate. When speaking of quality, it is easy to revert back to such managerial concepts as quality control, quality mechanisms, quality management, etc. These concepts, however, are not neutral. They convey a technocratic and top-down approach that will only backfire in academic settings. Therefore, the term “culture” was chosen to convey a connotation of quality as a shared value and a collective responsibility for all members of an institution, including students and administrative staff.
The Project dealt with the question whether the purpose of external evaluations is accountability or improvement, and showed that the introduction of internal quality processes provides an essential balance to the requirements of external accountability. Quality culture can serve to improve institutions: external evaluation procedures can serve to provide the required accountability to the public.
Project Reports: Developing an Internal Quality Culture in European Universities