This study mainly, via the method of document analysis and literature review, aims to explore the systems of quality assurance of higher education in the European Union. In so doing, the formation and development of the EU, the policies of the quality assurance, and responsive actions of the EU member states are analyzed in this study.
The main findings of this study include:
1. The European Union, formed originally by six countries in the Western Europe, has been gradually expanded by the joining of other countries in Europe, and its related rules or regulations have been revised according to the changing needs of its existing 27 member states.
2. The focus of higher education policies of the EU has been varied with different stages of its development. Policies concerning the quality assurance of higher education in the EU were initiated formally from the signing of the “Bologna Declaration” by 29 European Education Ministers in June 1999, which called for the creation of a “European Higher Education Area” (EHEA) by 2010.
3. The driving forces of establishing the EHEA is mainly from the increased concern of internationalization and globalization, as well as that of the international competitiveness of Europe at global level. By strengthening the “European dimension” of activities of its member states, the ambitious goal of the EU is to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, i.e., by creating a “Europe of knowledge”, to promote the attractiveness of the EHEA.
4. Based on the agreement of the “Bologna Process”, which listed a range of actions to be undertaken by signatory states, the European Commission supported the establishment of ENQA.. ENQA, becoming operational in 2000, is membership organizations whose mission is to promote cooperation, exchange best practices and stimulate the professional development of its members and their personnel. It also plays a role as the advocate of the quality assurance community in its relations with national governments, institutions and their organizations and the European Commission.
5. The policies of quality assurance of higher education in the EU are, by integrating
different quality assurance mechanisms of different states into a single European
framework of qualifications, mainly aiming to develop a more transparent, visible,
and inclusive system.
6. One of the distinctive characteristic of European quality assurance system is its diversified national nature. Based on the common European framework, each member state, with a high degree of self-regulation, committed to working together for establishing its own transparent structure of higher education with a high degree of mobility, compatibility, and comparability.
7. Due to the variation in higher education systems, problems and challenges faced by European countries in promoting quality assurance of higher education are mainly at national and institutional levels.