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A virtual meeting of the Working Group 1 of the European Consortium for Accreditation in Higher Education (ECA), in whose work the Agency for Science and Higher Education also participates, was held on 24 September 2020.

ASHE is a long-time member of the European Consortium for Accreditation in Higher Education (ECA), an association of recognised agencies for accreditation and quality assurance in Europe. ECA’s vision is to act as an internationally recognised driver of innovation in accreditation and quality assurance in higher education. ASHE’s representatives participate actively in the work of ECA’s bodies and work groups which cover a variety of topics and, more generally, deal with the enhancement of quality in higher education in Europe – the internationalisation of higher education, mutual recognition and joint studies, innovations in accreditation procedures, etc.

Working Group 1 Mutual recognition and joint study programmes is focused on the mutual recognition of accreditations of primarily joint study programmes. Evaluating the implementation of these agreements, further developing of the mutual recognition methodology and identifying the most useful areas of application in co-operation with stakeholders such as ENIC and NARIC Centres and joint programmes are central features of the current work of this Working Group. 

During the virtual meeting, the Working Group exchanged information on the ongoing projects held by the Dutch NUFFIC (The Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education), and in which ECA’s representatives also participate. These are newly approved projects within the ERASMUS+ programme whose implementation began in October 2020 – the STACQ: Stacking credits & the future of the qualification project and a major project focused on the development of a platform for the automatic recognition of foreign qualifications, which brings together many stakeholders under the name I-AR. The I-AR project aims to approach the implementation of automatic recognition as a concept from three levels – European, national and institutional, and is focused on the development of tools which will help the implementation, the improvement of the procedure as well as on strengthening human resources.

Participants at the virtual meeting continued discussing the implementation of the principle of a policy category within the European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes, which was adopted by European ministers responsible for higher education with the aim to simplify and enhance quality assurance procedures carried out on joint studies. These standards are based on tools agreed at the EHEA level, without the use of additional national demands related to the accreditation of joint studies. As a consequence, participants also discussed ongoing projects for the development of university consortiums and the challenges faced when carrying out evaluation procedures concerning the quality of the work performed by these consortiums, considering the measures introduced because of the spread of the pandemic caused by the coronavirus, i.e. the impossibility to carry out ˝traditional˝ external quality assurance evaluation procedures which include site visits to higher education institutions.

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