Edition 175 - November 2015

ACA and DAAD “University Quality Indicators: A Critical Assessment” joint study is out

ACA is pleased to announce the publication of a new study titled University Quality Indicators: A Critical Assessment, written by ACA and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for the European Parliament. The study reviews the latest developments in two different approaches to higher education quality assessment, quality assurance (QA) and global rankings, and presents a comparative analysis of these approaches. While both make judgments on quality, these two instruments differ fundamentally in their purpose. Most rankings are concerned with measuring excellence, especially in research, and identifying the best higher education institutions. External QA, on the other hand, aims to ensure compliance with minimum standards and support quality improvement, with a focus on teaching and learning. Despite the many differences, both QA and rankings display signs of learning from each other. Some QA classifications now include a category for quality that exceeds requirements, which indicates a move towards measuring excellence. Some global rankings are also moving in the direction of U-Multirank, encouraging users to produce rankings based on their own criteria. 

The study puts forward 13 recommendations for the further development of quality assurance systems and rankings, with a particular focus on U-Multirank. With respect to the development of quality assurance, the recommendations include the following:

  • promote European quality assurance instruments, such as the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG) and the European Quality Assurance Register (EQAR), to enhance the performance of European higher education institutions;
  • support quality culture in higher education institutions by the means of appropriate organisational approaches; and
  • adapt quality assurance approaches to the changes in the higher education landscape, including life-long learning, massive open online courses, e-learning, and cross-border education. 

In the area of global rankings, the study makes the following selected recommendations:

  • conduct research on possible indicators of teaching quality in order to increase the role and weight of teaching and learning in international rankings; and
  • simplify U-Multirank, for example by reducing the number of indicators, enhance its visibility among the general public and create a sustainable business model for it. 

The full study can be downloaded here

(back to newsletter)