Quality Assurance


Quality assurance approaches in higher education are well-established, but it is important to develop quality assurance and enhancement methods which apply to new modes of teaching and learning. The teaching, support and assessment  - whether online or face-to-face - needs to be of a high standard, so that students are challenged and engaged. Quality assurance frameworks can help to make this happen. 

Meet our experts on quality assurance
  • Karen Kear, Open University of the United Kingdom, (OUUK), Chair

  • Jon Rosewell, Open University of the United Kingdom (OUUK)

  • Keith Williams, Open University of the United Kingdom (OUUK)

  • Miguel Santamaría Lancho, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)

  • Angeles Sánchez-Elvira Paniagua, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)

  • Covadonga Rodriguez, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)

  • André Vyt, Ghent University (UGent)

  • Mairead Nicgiollamhich, Dublin City Universiy (DCU)

  • Taina Saarinen, Jyväskylän yliopisto (JYU)

EMPOWER offers

Quality assurance systems for higher education vary widely across Europe and internationally. Points of difference include:

  • whether the focus of a quality assurance system is on checking compliance with standards or on rather on promoting quality enhancement;
  • the extent to which external oversight is required; 
  • the applicability to online, open and flexible learning, as opposed to just face-to-face contexts.

Mature quality assurance systems allow universities to set their own goals (and decide how to achieve them) within a broad framework of standards. Each university then has the flexibility to demonstrate performance against criteria which are relevant to its mission and context.  For example, the E-xcellence approach to quality assurance for e-learning is grounded in the belief that universities are well placed to assess the quality of their own e-learning and to identify what is relevant to their own context. The EADTU E-xcellence resources are designed to support universities in this, and to encourage a collegiate and collaborative approach to quality assurance. Taking another example, although MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) attract large numbers of learners, their completion rates are low. Could this situation be changed by focussing attention on quality assurance for MOOCs? The EADTU OpenUpEd initiative for quality assurance of MOOCs is based on this premise. Universities offering MOOCs can use the OpenUpEd framework to carry out a self-evaluation of their MOOCs, and of their approaches to developing them.


Quality in Higher Education Week:

19 & 20 September 2018

Quality frameworks for MOOCs

OpenupEd organised a webinar on Quality frameworks for MOOCs, including 6 short presentations related to various perspectives on quality. 

  • Checking MOOC quality afterwards: the case of accessibility by Francisco Iniesto (OUUK)
  • Quality assurance of MOOCs from an institutional perspective: the OpenupEd label by Jon Rosewell & Karen Kear (OUUK)
  • The student’s perspective on MOOC quality by Gohar Hovhannisyan (ESU)
  • How a MOOC platform checks the quality of MOOCs by Rebecca Love-Howard (FutureLearn)
  • How a MOOC platform checks the quality of MOOCs by Catherine Mongenet (FUN)
  • How to secure the quality of MOOCs in cross-sectoral / cross-institutional team: the case of the BizMOOC project by Darco Jansen (EADTU)

Main results EADTU-ENQA Peer Learning Activity on QA in blended and online education

The EADTU-ENQA PLA has identified next steps in the development of high quality blended degree and online continuing education in a dialogue between main stakeholders: universities, quality assurance agencies, governments and students. Only in a dialogue between these stakeholders, we can come to a favourable environment for further innovating education. This PLA showed a shared responsibility to accelerate innovation and quality of education and to find ways for improvement. Ways forward for all stakeholders separately and in dialogue will be presented. By George Ubachs (EADTU)

Main findings of the ENQA WG E-learning

Recognising that recommendations for quality assurance and e-learning have already been written, the WG decided to create a new focus: to systematically examine both the applicability and relevance of the standards as defined in the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG, 2015). Although each standard proved to be fully applicable to e-learning, some standards seemed to require special guidance on how they can be applied. The findings of this work are applicable to all forms of e-learning. Besides, it is meant to initiate discussion and the thinking process of stakeholders involved, e.g. HEIs, QA agencies, etc. It is not intended to be prescriptive. By Esther Huertas Hidalgo (AQU Catalunya) 

Lessons from 10 years of E-xcellence quality reviews for elearning

E-xcellence is a QA methodology with a strong quality enhancement focus. We analysed E-xcellence self-evaluations and roadmaps at twenty higher education institutions to identify the most challenging aspects of e-learning provision. The main challenges were: developing e-learning strategy, building online academic communities for students, and managing staff workload. There was also a strong focus on increasing the interactivity of learning materials. In contrast, the provision of reliable IT systems and hardware was unproblematic. By Karen Kear & Jon Rosewell (OUUK)