Agree on a joint quality assurance and accreditation scheme



The quality assurance for a joint master’s programme is a common responsibility of the partnership. In this respect decisions have to be taken about:
• Align with the institutional quality assurance frameworks;
• Connect with Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area;
• Connect with the quality assurance scheme of the EUI alliance;
• Use state-of-the-art quality assurance instruments
• Accreditation.


Align with institutional quality assurance frameworks

The programme team draws up an integrated quality assurance plan for the joint programme, building on the internal quality assurance of the respective universities.
Teaching staff is responsible for the scientific content and the level of the courses within the joint curriculum. As an institution, each partner university is responsible for the quality assurance of the courses taught by its teaching staff in the programme. The programme team can add quality criteria and procedures for the entire programme, for example with regard to specific (joint) learning activities or aspects of the curriculum.
The joint programme team draws up the quality assurance reports and discusses the results of the institutional quality assurance.
Quality assurance takes into account several criteria and indicators, in particular:

• study progress and success;
• correspondence of the study results with the learning outcomes and pre-specified competences; • learning experience satisfaction during the programme;
• the content and level of the programme;
• data from learning analytics.

Connect with the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG)

The institutional quality assurance procedures should comply with ENQA Standards and Guidelines (ESG) (ENQA, 2015).
For the aspects of online learning, they follow the Considerations of the ENQA Working Group for Quality Assurance and E-learning Huertas, 2018).

Connect with the quality assurance scheme of the EUI alliance

The EUniQ project (2019-2021) is developing a quality assurance approach for alliances of European universities (EUI). This approach focuses on multicampus education of which joint programmes are a backbone. The project develops a truly European approach to quality assurance, allowing the replacement of multiple national quality assurance procedures in the alliances.
The EUniQ consortium consists of eight quality assurance (QA) agencies, six ministries and the European stakeholder organizations EUA, ESU and ENQA. It will help the alliances to both define and self-assess their quality.
These key questions were leading in the pilot phase:

Use up-to-date quality assurance tools

Right from the start of Erasmus Mundus, EUA and ENQA have developed a quality assurance framework for joint master’s programmes responding to institutional and inter-institutional challenges (EUA, ENQA, 2006). Later, EQAR linked quality assurance of joint master’s programmes to European Standards and Guidelines (EQAR, 2016).


E-xcellence is a quality assurance tool for online, open and flexible education (Ubachs et al., 2015). The self-assessment tool is accompanied by a comprehensive manual that provides guidelines for improvement, covering the design of blended and online courses and curricula, student and staff support, and strategic management. E-xcellence also offers
on-site assessments.


The European Maturity Model for Blended Education (EMBED) can be used to assess the maturity level of courses, programmes and institution-wide facilities (van Valkenburg et al., 2020). The concept of maturity refers to the degree of regular formal and deliberate optimization of the design and the implementation of a programme, based on the evidence-based decision-making by the programme team and individual teaching staff.

Put an accreditation policy in place

In most European countries, universities are now accredited at the institutional level. As a result, degree programmes are no longer systematically accredited at the programme level. Institutional accreditation means that the institution has internal procedures in place guaranteeing the quality of courses and programmes.
However, even within an institutional accreditation framework, it is still possible that an individual university programme will undergo an accreditation procedure when it is selected for doing so by an external review committee.
The programme team has to put an accreditation policy in place, taking into account procedures in the respective countries. This policy can assure that a joint master’s programme has to undergo only one procedure by a (national) agency recognized by EQAR., if such procedure is requested.

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