This section outlines how ECTS contributes to quality enhancement in HEIs and gives examples for the evaluation of ECTS implementation.
The primary responsibility for quality assurance lies with each institution, as agreed by Education Ministers of the countries involved in the Bologna Process (Berlin Communiqué, 2003). Internal quality assurance involves all procedures undertaken by higher education institutions to ensure that the quality of their programmes and qualifications meets their own specifications and those of other relevant bodies such as quality assurance agencies. External quality reviews undertaken by quality assurance agencies provide feedback to institutions and information to stakeholders. Quality assurance principles and processes apply to all modes of learning and teaching (formal, non-formal, informal, new modes of learning, teaching and assessment). The European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ENQA, 2005) support internal and external quality assurance.
‘The European Standards and Guidelines (ESG) are a set of standards and guidelines for internal and external quality assurance in higher education. The ESG are not standards for quality, nor do they prescribe how the quality assurance processes are implemented, but they provide guidance, covering the areas which are vital for successful quality provision and learning environments in higher education. The ESG should be considered in a broader context that also includes qualifications frameworks, ECTS and the Diploma Supplement that also contribute to promoting the transparency and mutual trust in higher education in the EHEA.’
Standards 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 and the associated guidelines refer to areas related to ECTS (in particular programme design, Student-Centred Learning, teaching and assessment and student admission, progression, recognition and certification).
Good practice in using ECTS will help institutions improve the quality of their programmes and their learning mobility offer. Thus, ECTS use should be quality assured through appropriate evaluation processes (e.g. monitoring, internal and external quality reviews and students’ feedback) and continuous quality enhancement. In evaluating the effectiveness of a programme (including the learning outcomes, workload and assessment methods) a number of measures will be used. These may include high dropout or failure rates or longer completion times. A programme can be considered effective when its goals are attained in due time, that is to say when students achieve the defined learning outcomes, accumulate the required credits and obtain the qualification as planned in the programme. However, care should be taken in any analysis to discriminate critically between the elements, as they may also indicate ineffective planning or delivery of the programme or inadequate measures for supporting students.
The following indicators can be used for evaluating the quality of ECTS implementation:
For mobile students and recognition, this means that:
Student representatives should be actively engaged in quality assurance processes for ECTS: