Since the beginning of the Bologna Process in 1999, Quality Assurance (QA) has been key to establishing the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). QA is essential for building trust and to reinforce the attractiveness of the EHEA’s offerings, including in the provision of cross-border education, as the Ministers responsible for Higher Education in the Bologna signatory countries stated.

In 2003 the Ministers asked ENQA to develop, in cooperation with ESIB (nowadays ESU), EUA and EURASHE, “an agreed set of standards, procedures and guidelines” (Berlin Communiqué). Following this mandate the “Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the EHEA” (ESG) were presented to the ministers in Bergen (2005) and the document was adopted by them.

The European quality assurance landscape changed considerably in since then. Thus, in 2010 the organisations that form the E4 Group, notably ENQA, ESU, EUA and EURASHE launched the “Mapping the Implementation and Application of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (MAP-ESG)” project in order to gather information on how the ESG have been implemented and applied in the 47 Bologna signatory countries in higher education institutions and in quality assurance institutions, and to launch a thorough discussion on the ESG in their entirety.

Based on the findings of the MAP-ESG project and the conclusions derived from the findings (full report available here),  the E4 Group recommended that ministers of the EHEA countries mandate the E4 organisations to carry out, in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, a careful revision of the ESG. Nevertheless, already in 2005, the report on the ESG stated that they should not be considered as unchangeable (ENQA 2005: 13); it was always clear to the authors that once some time for implementation had elapsed, the ESG would need to be analysed and reviewed.

During the last Ministerial Conference of the Bologna Process (Bucharest, April 2012), the Ministers acknowledge the ENQA, ESU, EUA and EURASHE (the E4 group) report on the implementation and application of the “European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance”,  and adopted the Bucharest Communiqué, where they agreed on the following:

“We will revise the ESG to improve their clarity, applicability and usefulness, including their scope. The revision will be based upon an initial proposal to be prepared by the E4 in cooperation with Education International, BUSINESSEUROPE and the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR), which will be submitted to the Bologna Follow-Up Group.”

Following the mandate of the ministers, ENQA, ESU, EUA and EURASHE in cooperation with EI, BUSINESSEUROPE and the EQAR will  submit a proposal to the BFUG. Finally the revised version of the ESG will be presented at the Ministerial Conference in Yerevan 2015 for adoption.

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