Quality of higher education

Quality of higher education

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Quality of higher education


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

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Quality of higher education

Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation (EC) No 561/98 of 24 September 1998 on European cooperation in quality assurance in higher education [Official Journal L 270 of 7.10.1998]


The Council of the European Union recommends to Member States that they establish transparent quality assessment and quality assurance systems in the field of higher education.

The aim is to safeguard and improve the quality of higher education while taking due account of national conditions, the European dimension and international requirements.

The systems of quality assessment and quality assurance must be based on the following principles:

  • autonomy and independence of the bodies responsible for quality assessment and quality assurance;
  • relating evaluation procedures to the way institutions see themselves;
  • internal (self-reflective) and external (experts’ appraisals) assessment;
  • involvement of all the players (teaching staff, administrators, students, alumni, social partners, professional associations, inclusion of foreign experts);
  • publication of evaluation reports.

The Council recommends Member States to ensure that follow-up measures are taken at national or regional level in order to enable higher education institutions to implement their plans for improving quality and for integrating graduates into the labour market more effectively.

The Member States are also recommended to ensure that high priority is given by public authorities and by the management of higher education institutions to continuous exchange of experience with other Member States and with international organisations active in this field.

The Council also recommends Member States to promote cooperation between the authorities responsible for evaluating quality in higher education and encourage their networking. This cooperation should concern:

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  • exchange of information and experience;
  • fulfilling requests for expertise and advice from the authorities in the Member States and promotion of contacts with international experts;
  • support for higher education institutes in the different countries which wish to cooperate.

In pursuing these objectives, the links with other Community activities, notably in the framework of the Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci programmes, should also be taken into account, as well as the “acquis communautaire” in the field of recognition of qualifications for professional purposes.

The Commission is invited to support this cooperation between the authorities responsible for evaluation and quality control in higher education, by involving organisations and associations in the European Community that possess the necessary experience in the field of evaluation and quality assurance in higher education.

The Commission is requested to present, every three years, a report on the development of quality assessment and quality assurance systems in the Member States and on cooperation activities at European level in this field.

Related Acts

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Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 February 2006 on further European cooperation in quality assurance in higher education [Official Journal L 64/60 of 4.3.2006].
9. The Council and the European Parliament recommend Member States to introduce internal quality assurance systems in accordance with the standards and guidelines adopted in Bergen in the context of the Bologna Process.
10. They call on quality assurance agencies to be independent in their assessments, to apply the features of quality assurance laid down in the 1998 Recommendation and to apply the general rules adopted in Bergen.
11. The representatives of national authorities, the higher education sector and quality assurance agencies are encouraged to cooperate with the social partners to set up a European register of quality assurance agencies (EQAR). This register, which will be put in place in summer 2008, should be based on a national review and will take account of the principles set out in the Annex. The registration conditions and register management rules should also be laid down.
12. Member States must take the necessary action to allow higher education institutions to choose from the register the quality assurance agency which meets their needs.
13. The Council and the European Parliament recommend Member States to ensure public access to assessments produced by quality assurance agencies listed in the European register.
14. The Recommendation invites the Commission to continue to support cooperation between higher education institutions, quality assurance agencies and competent authorities.
15. Finally, the Council and the European Parliament invite the Commission to present triennial reports on progress in the development of quality assurance systems.

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the implementation of Council Recommendation 98/561/EC of 24 September 1998 on European cooperation in quality assurance in higher education [COM(2004) 0620 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

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