AHPGS - Accreditation Agency in Health and Social Sciences

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Country: Germany
Name in English: AHPGS - Accreditation Agency in Health and Social Sciences
National name: AHPGS - Akkreditierungsagentur im Bereich Gesundheit und Soziales

The Accreditation Agency in Health and Social Sciences (AHPGS) was founded in the pursuit for an enhanced quality standard in teaching and learning in higher education. By implementing accreditation and evaluation procedures, it aims to achieve increased transparency and equity among higher education institutions and their study programmes, at both national and international levels. The Agency specializes in the accreditation of study programmes and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in numerous educational fields, with a particular focus on health and social sciences. Its work focuses on guaranteeing uniform, internationally-competitive standards for a wide range of degrees by supporting quality assurance and development.

Agency's position within the national higher education system

Description of the agency

The AHPGS promotes quality and transparency in higher education. The Agency was founded in the pursuit for an enhanced quality standard in teaching and learning in higher education. AHPGS’s activity focuses on guaranteeing uniform, international-competitive quality standards for Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, as well as for higher education institutions. It specialises in the areas of health and social sciences, as well as in related fields, such as medical care, economics or law.

The history of the agency

The Agency was established in 2001 by the Rectors’ Conference in Nursing Sciences, the Assemblies of the Faculties of Social Work and of Therapeutic Pedagogy and the German Coordinating Agency for Public Health(DKGW). Its founding members were the German Coordinating Agency for Public Health at the University of Freiburg, the Conference of Deans of Health Care, the Faculty Conference of Social Work and the Faculty Conference of Therapeutic Pedagogy.

The same year it was accredited for the first time by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Study Programmes in Germany. Since then, the AHPGS renewed its accreditation twice – in 2004, 2009 and 2014. respectively. Currently, the AHPGS is accredited until 2019 by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Study programmes in Germany.

Other quality assurance agencies authorised to operate in the country

AHPGS is one of ten accreditation agencies active in Germany. Additional information is available on the Accreditation Council’s homepage (www.akkreditierungsrat.de).

Legal framework

The German Accreditation Council determines the legal framework for accreditation procedures and certifies the accreditation agencies. The AHPGS implements the “Rules for the Accreditation of Study Programs and for System Accreditation” of the Accreditation Council, the Common Structural Guidelines (“Ländergemeinsame Strukturvorgaben”) of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder of the Federal Republic of Germany (KMK). Together with the German standards, the AHPGS implements the “Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area”.

Independence

As a registered organisation, the AHPGS acts independently and autonomously of the interests higher education bodies, professional and trade organisations or other specialised bodies.

Funding

The AHPGS is registered in the legal form of a non-profit organisation. Funding is acquired solely through accreditation procedures.

Quality assurance procedures

Main procedures

  • For study programs at higher education institutions:
    • Accreditation
    • External evaluation
    • Recommendation
  • For higher education institutions
    • System accreditation
    • Institutional audit


  • Target institutions:
    • All higher education institutions
  • Target programmes:
    • Main focus: Bachelor and Master study programs in the fields of health and social sciences, and in related fields
    • All higher education programmes


Workflow of the Quality Assurance Procedures

1. The higher education institution’s application

The higher education institution submits its application together with additional documentation to the AHPGS. The AHPGS revises the documentation and, if necessary, demands supplementation of the documentation. The AHPGS comprises a summary of the application on the basis of the documentation submitted by the higher education institution. The Accreditation Commission nominates the expert group to proceed with the quality assurance procedure. The summary, the application and the documentation are forwarded to the expert group.

2. The on-site visit (Peer review)

The on-site visit of the expert group takes place at the higher education institution. As a result of the visit, the expert group comprises an expert report which is forwarded to the AHPGS. The AHPGS forwards this report to the higher education institution for approval. Should it be necessary, the higher education institution may issue a response opinion to the expert report.

3. The decision of the Accreditation Commission

The Accreditation Commission revises the application documentation, the summary, the expert report and the response opinion. Based on this, a decision is reached by the Accreditation Commission.

Consequences of quality assurance

The final decision of the Accreditation Commission may be positive or negative, in the form of:

  • Unconditional accreditation
  • Conditional accreditation
  • Denial of accreditation

Validity of the decision(s)

In Germany, initial accreditation is valid for a period of 5 years. Subsequent accreditation is valid for a period of 7 years.

Publications policy

The AHPGS makes public all positive accreditation decisions. These, together with information regarding the study programs accredited, are available on the Internet page of the AHPGS, as well as on the those of the German Accreditation Council (www.akkreditierungsrat.de) and the German Higher Education Compass (www.hochschulkompass.de).

Appeal system

Higher education institutions are entitled to forward an appeal regarding a final decision. The AHPGS has developed an internal system which handles and monitors the appeal procedures.

Figures on quality assurance procedures

Up to present time, over 1,155 study programmes at over 120 national and international higher education institutions have been evaluated and accredited by the AHPGS. Altogether, including the peer reviews, more than 1,500 experts were involved.

International activities

Alongside its national presence, the AHPGS developed a significant international activity. Part of it so far represents accreditation and evaluation procedures in Austria, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Oman, Romania, Saudi Arabia, and Switzerland.

Member of international quality assurance networks / organisations

Since 2009 the AHPGS is listed in the European Quality Assurance Register (EQAR).

The AHPGS is member of the European Consortium for Accreditation (ECA) since 2004. Since 2008 the AHPGS is recognised by the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs (FDEA) and verifies applications from Swiss universities of applied sciences for the FDEA.

Moreover, since 2016 the AHPGS is also recognised by the Swiss Accreditation Council to pursue programme and institutional accreditation in Switzerland.

Other significant memberships include:

2006: European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA)

2009: International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE)

2012: Network of Central and Eastern European Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (CEENQA)

Have there been any relevant external reviews of your agency?

The AHPGS was first accredited by the German Accreditation Council in 2001. This endorses it the right to award the official seal of the Council and to accredit study programs and higher education institutions. The accreditation of the German Accreditation Council also regards compliance and inclusion of the “European Standards and Guidelines”.

Listed on the European Quality Assurance register?

Yes.

Accreditation procedures in another jurisdiction?

Yes. Since 2008 the AHPGS is recognised by the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs (FDEA) and verifies applications from Swiss universities of applied sciences for the FDEA. Since, 2016 the AHPGS is recognized by the Swiss Accreditation Council to pursue programme as well as institutional accreditations in Switzerland.

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