QUALITY ASSURANCE IN EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATION: FROM ADOLESCENCE TO MATURITY (2007)

In Papers by Luc Weber

Published in Weber, L. & Dolgova-Dreyer, K. (eds) The Legitimacy of Quality Assurance in Higher Education, Council of Europe Higher Education Series Nr. 9, Strasbourg, 2007

On the background of the premises and environment described in the preface of this book, the objective of this paper is to contribute to the critical assessment of the progress made over the last quarter of a century in quality assurance – used here as a generic term – in higher education institutions and particularly in universities. This contribution shall in a fi rst part (2.) try to indicate why quality assurance is so important in higher education today.
This question will be considered from a double angle: first, from the standpoint of public authorities (2.1) and second, from the standpoint of institutions of higher education, in particular research universities (2.2). The second part (3.) will try to defi ne how public authorities and institutions can best meet this shared responsibility. This will lead us to remind actors of what a university really is (3.1), to affi rm that quality assurance is still in an adolescent phase (3.2) and to discuss the pros and cons of the most important choices which have to be made
while searching for the best methodology of quality assurance (3.3). The chapter will then conclude (4.) in the light of what has been identifi ed before, by considering the types of quality assurance which are most likely to help improve the quality of higher education, and so bring it to maturity.