22 SES 08 A, Inclusion and Diversity in Higher Education Settings
Parallel Paper Session
Student support and diversity is an element of quality in Higher Education. The main objective of this article is to analyze the importance given to student guidance and diversity in the standards and criteria used in the process of quality accreditation and evaluation in Europe and United States.
On the first hand, in the European context, the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) is the representative body for quality assurance agencies at the European level (ENQA, 2007). Its origins date back to the early nineties as a result of the European Pilot Projects, whose results are reflected in the European Report (European Commission, 1995). One of the reasons for the interest in quality assurance was the desire of the European member states to increase student mobility through the Erasmus exchange programmes to recognize and ensure the quality of studies abroad (ENQA, 2010).
The Ministerial Conferences of Bologna Process have guided the development of European procedures to ensure the quality of Higher Education (Bergen Communiqué, 2005; Berlin Communiqué, 2003; London Communiqué, 2007) by proposing to develop a set of rules, procedures and guidelines for quality assurance in order to ensure an adequate system of evaluation and accreditation agencies. The E4 Group accepted this responsibility and developed the report Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG) (ENQA, 2009). With the aim of enhancing transparency in quality assurance of Higher Education and promote the development of European Higher Education Area (EHEA), in 2008 the EQAR (European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education) was created. One of the reasons for being registered on the EQAR is to improve the agency’s international reputation (EQAR, 2011).
On the other hand, accreditation process in the United States emerges with the task of evaluating the quality of Higher Education institutions to ensure their proper functioning (Michavila y Zamorano, 2008). This process is the principal means of ensuring that the education provided by universities meets acceptable quality levels (CHEA, 2011). The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) develops standards that must be met by an accrediting organization in order to be recognized. This accreditation is also the responsibility of the United States Department of Education (USDE). The USDE criteria relate to specific areas: curricula, faculty, facilities, student achievement, student support services, recruiting and admissions practices, measures of program length and objectives of degrees or credentials offered, fiscal and administrative capacity, record of student complaints and record of compliance with program responsibilities for student aid (CHEA, 2011).
In the United States there are six regional agencies responsible for the accreditation of Higher Education institutions in specific geographic areas (Vieira, 2008) and more than sixty programmatic accrediting organizations that have been recognized by the CHEA, USDE or both. These programmatic accrediting organizations are responsible for accredit specific programs, professions and freestanding schools, e.g., medicine, engineering and health professions.
Bergen Communiqué (2005). The European Higher Education Area - Achieving the Goals. Communiqué of the Conference of European Ministers responsible for Higher Education. Bergen, 19-20 May 2005. Berlin Communiqué (2003). Realising the European Higher Education Area. Communiqué of the Conference of Ministers responsible for Higher Education. Berlin, 19 September 2003. CHEA (2011). An Overview of U.S. Accreditation. Washington, DC: Council for Higher Education Accreditation. ENQA (2007). Report to the London conference of ministers on a European Register of Quality Assurance Agencies. Helsinki: European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education. ENQA (2009). Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area. Helsinki: European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education. ENQA (2010). ENQA: 10 years (2000–2010). A decade of European co-operation in quality assurance in Higher Education. Helsinki: European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education. EQAR (2011). Annual Report. Belgium: European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education. European Commission (1995). European Commission: Directorate General XXII: Education, Training and Youth, Socrates: European Pilot Project for Evaluating Quality in Higher Education. The European Report. London Communiqué (2007). Towards the European Higher Education Area: responding to challenges in a globalised world. Communiqué of the Conference of Ministers responsible for Higher Education. London, 18 May 2007. Michavila, F. y Zamorano, S. (2008). Panorama de los sistemas de garantía de calidad en Europa: una visión trasnacional de la acreditación. Revista de Educación, número extraordinario, 235-263. Vieira, M. J. (2008). Criterios para la evaluación del sistema de apoyo y orientación al estudiante universitario: revisión y propuesta. Revista de educación, 345, 399-423.
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