European Consortium for Accreditation in higher education

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About ECA

Aims and structure

What is ECA?

The European Consortium for Accreditation in higher education (ECA) is a project organisation founded in 2003 with the primary aim of mutual recognition of accreditation decisions. ECA’s activities are based on the ECA Agreement of Cooperation signed by European accreditation (and accreditation-like) agencies and is renewed every three years. The members of the Consortium decide each year on the annual membership contribution and approve the budget. The basic activities of the Consortium are funded from the contributions of its members. In order to fund specific activities, ECA may apply and receive financial support from other parties.

What is the aim of ECA?

The aim of the Consortium is threefold:

  • to achieve mutual recognition of accreditation and quality assurance decisions; to enhance the conditions for such mutual recognition, especially for joint programmes
  • to provide a platform for mutual learning and disseminating experiences with accreditation and accreditation-like practices
  • to provide transparent information on quality and to facilitate the internationalisation of institutions and students.

What is the organisational structure of ECA?

ECA is managed by the Management Group which consist of the Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and the Coordinator plus a maximum of five representatives from different member countries. The current organisational issues concerning ECA’s activities are handled by the Coordinator who heads the ECA Secretariat. Most of the ECA activities are conducted by four Working Groups:

  • WG 1. Mutual recognition and joint programmes
  • WG 2. Internationalisation of accreditation and quality assurance
  • WG 3. Qrossroads and information strategies
  • WG 4. Mutual learning and best practices

The ECA projects are conducted by project groups.

Membership

How can I join ECA as an individual?

If you work with an agency that is already ECA member then you are entitled to all the ECA member benefits . Individuals from agencies that are not ECA members can apply to the Management Group for the observer status by sending an e-mail to the ECA Secretariat The fee for individuals with the observer status is € 1,000.

How can my agency join ECA ?

The agency willing to join ECA has to fulfill the membership requirements and submit the application form, available here. The ECA annual membership fee is € 3,000. Membership applications will be reviewed by the Management Group and have to be approved by the members of the Consortium.

What are the benefits of ECA membership?

Representatives of member agencies are invited to take part in activities and meetings of the Working Groups which focus on various topics such as: Mutual recognition & joint programmes, Internationalisation of accreditation and quality assurance, Qrossroads & information strategies, Mutual learning & best practices. Members can also participate in European ECA projects. Click here for an overview of these projects. ECA members are also invited to participate in ECA events such as the plenary annual workshops, seminars, conferences, etc. ECA provides plenty of opportunities for networking, mutual learning and exchange of good practices.

What are the requirements for ECA membership?

The applying agency has to:

  • be established by law as corporate body or be based on national or regional regulations or agreements;
  • have accreditation or accreditation-like practices as one of its principal functions;
  • contribute actively to the aims of the Consortium;
  • fulfill the ECA Code of Good Practice and/or the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance.

Who are the members of ECA?

Click here to find out more about current ECA members.

Working Groups

How can I join one of the ECA Working Groups?

Working Groups can be joined only by representatives of member agencies or observers. External experts can also be invited by the chair of the Working group.

What are the working groups doing?

The activities , composition and meetings of the 4 working groups are stated in annual work plans. You can find the most recent ECA Work plan here.

Mutual recognition

A mutual recognition agreement? What is this and which have been signed?

A mutual recognition agreement is a declaration of accreditation agencies which consider their accreditation procedures, standards and results as free of significant differences. The accreditation agencies declare to accept the results of the accreditation procedures of the signing accreditation organisations and give each other access to all relevant documents relating to the accreditation results. Two types of mutual recognition agreements have been signed. On 10th December 2007 in Barcelona 12 Bilateral Mutual Recognition Agreements have been signed. The agreements have been signed for a 3 years period and have been renewed after expiration. The second type is the Multilateral Agreement on the Mutual Recognition of Accreditation Results regarding Joint Programmes (MULTRA) which until now has been signed among 12 accreditation agencies. More agencies have announced their willingness to sign this multilateral agreement on joint programmes. Mutual recognition agreements were facilitated by the principles and guidelines stipulated in the ECA documents which can be found here. The list of the Bilateral Agreements and the MULTRA can be found here.

How can my agency join the MULTRA?

An agency willing to join the MULTRA must have a valid bilateral recognition agreement or a recent (not older than 5 years) external evaluation against the ESG criteria, the ECA Code of Good Practice or against a set of standards that can be considered as equivalent. The agency then needs to go through an observation procedure. The process of admission is coordinated by the ECA Management Group. More information about the MULTRA, admission and observation procedure can be found here.

Information and publications

Does ECA publish the outcomes of its activities?

ECA regularly publishes the results of its projects, surveys , good practices, etc. The most important publications can be found here.

How can I stay informed about ECA developments?

News items are published regularly on QAzette - the ECA news service.

Projects & events

Projects

I am not a ECA member yet. Which current projects can I participate in?

Currently you can participate in the Qrossroads project, presenting information regarding quality assured and accredited higher education in Europe. More information concerning the Qrossroads project can be found here.

What does the CeQuInt project mean?

This project intends to develop a methodology to assess the quality of internationalisation. The project is co-funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Union and will lead to the award of a Certificate for Quality of Internationalisation. More information about the CeQuInt project can be found here.

What does the JOQAR project mean?

The Joint programmes: Quality Assurance and Recognition of degrees awarded (JOQAR) project is realised with the support of the Erasmus Mundus Action 3 programme (Promotion of European higher education) of the European Union. The overall purpose of the project is to ensure that Erasmus Mundus programmes (and joint programmes in general) are facilitated in two specific areas: accreditation and recognition. The project partnership consequently includes quality assurance/accreditation agencies and recognition bodies (ENIC-NARICs). More information about the JOQAR project can be found here.

Events

When will be the next ECA Event?

All necessary information concerning upcoming or past ECA Events can be found here.