A farewell from Matthias Middell, Head of the QUAEM Consortium

19 August 2016

Quality Assessment and Assurance are activities scholars have exercised at universities since the Middle Ages and feedback from peers and students was constitutive to Higher Education for centuries. One could conclude that there is nothing new under the sun when new QA mechanisms are proposed, discussed, and implemented. But already the word ‘mechanisms’ hints at something new—the much more formalized character of such assessment exercises. Why are they needed, one may ask. One reason is of course internationalisation and the resulting mobility. Trust in the validity of education gained somewhere else, and in the diploma issued there, has to be secured when more and more people cross borders and expect recognition of the years spent at university. Another reason is the sheer amount of people involved now in Higher Education. It becomes more and more difficult to know all the colleagues even at one’s own university, not to speak of the students. Formalisation has a lot of advantages. It replaces informal procedures by well-regulated ones, forms circulate, and individuals have not to tell colleagues about their impressions but can rely on the results of evaluation sheets that can easily be transferred up in hierarchies and even beyond the borders of the universities (to inform, for example, tax payers about what they get for their money from the HEI).

But formalisation comes always at a certain price. Bureaucracies are unavoidable. Legal regulations have to address a problem in general and may neglect the particularities of an individual case. Collegiality may disappear under the thousand forms to be filled in daily-life routines. QUAEM was an extraordinary experience. We have learned a lot from each other—about the situation in Moldova, about the situation in other European countries, about the wider world of the Bologna process, about the interaction of politics and academia, about places we have travelled and visited, and, above all, about concrete people. I have to thank all the persons involved in this process for their openness and willingness to share their experience and world views, to coordinate efforts, to contribute to the evaluations, to the trainings, to the voluminous publication that documents step by step and document by document our activities over the past three and half years.

QA can be a great instrument for improvement in our universities and can help convincing society that Higher Education is necessary, useful, of excellent quality, and therefore needs appropriate funding even at times of budget crisis. But it can also be a sharp weapon in the hands of people who see the formalities as more important than real life. I hope that the instruments we have developed together and the spirit of QUAEM will help to make Quality Assurance in the Moldovan Higher Education an instrument of further internationalisation to the profit of the students and the population that expects from students gaining expertise in well-working universities to make their country a better one.

This project comes to an end these days, but I am sure that the entire QUAEM family is ready to join efforts to pave the way for future collaboration. In this sense, I want to end this with the very German "Auf Wiedersehen"!

Final project conference in Chisinau, 19–20 May 2016

23 May 2016

QUAEM will come to an end this fall. Its final conference was held in Chisinau at Nicolae Testemitanu University for Medicine and Pharmacy on May 19–20, 2016.

For this purpose, the members of the international project consortium gathered one last time to reflect on the goals they achieved in the past three years and the future challenges that lie ahead of them in the field of Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Moldova.

Take a look at the conference programme here, and find some pictures below.

13 May 2016

The first volume of the QUAEM proceedings, "External Quality Assurance of Study Programmes in Moldova: Methodology and Documentation" (ed. Matthias Middell, Victoria Reinhardt, and Lukas Bischof) was published today.

This volume includes a series of results of the TEMPUS project "Development of Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Moldova" in both English and Romanian. It contains a complete set of original documents developed for the purpose of international accreditation of study programmes of Moldovan universities as well as an outlook for future developments in Moldovan Higher Education Institutions and recommendations for the future activity of the newly launched National Agency for Quality Assurance in Professional Education of the Republic of Moldova. Find a number of excerpts from the volume in this special issue of the QUAEM newsletter.

The second volume, "From Quality Assurance to Strategy Development in Higher Education in Moldova: Actors’ Perceptions" (working title), is forthcoming.

Accreditations and more successes for QUAEM in 2015

14 December 2015

2015 saw many successes for the QUAEM project: Four sample study programmes were internationally accredited by the German Agency for Quality Assurance through Accreditation of Study Programmes (AQAS), nine other study programmes were prepared for accreditation in a bilateral follow-up project of the Ministry of Education and AQAS, a joint methodology for evaluation of accreditation of study programmes was developed and put at the disposal of Moldovan HEIs, and continuous support on all levels has been provided for launching the National Agency for Quality Assurance in Professional Education (ANACIP). Training a group of twelve students in the field of quality assurance and the development of an action plan for the active involvement of students in the consolidation of the quality assurance system in Moldovan higher education were two additional important achievements of the last project year.

The four pilot programmes QUAEM guided to international accreditation are:

  • Mathematics and Computer Sciences at Tiraspol State University
  • Mathematics and Computer Sciences at Alecu Russo State University Balti
  • Electromechanics at the Technical University of Moldova
  • History at the State University of Moldova

Congratulations!

1 April 2016

ANACIP, the newly established National Agency for Quality Assurance in Professional Education in Moldova, is now online. Head over to anacip.md!

Student training in Brussels

15 October 2015

From 8–11 October 2015, twelve Moldovan students took part to a training organised by The European Students’ Union (ESU), as a follow-up to the training organised in 2013 in Chisinau. The training aimed to give a broad perspective on Quality Assurance to the participants and motivate them to get involved in the development of the Quality Assurance system in Moldova. The training was organised next to ESU’s office and the participants had the chance to see how the European student representatives work and how they are organised.

The objectives of the training were to develop the knowledge of the participants about QA policies and practices at national and international level, to facilitate the interaction of student representatives from Moldova with student experts on QA from Europe, and to develop their necessary skills to be able to participate in external Quality Assurance reviews.

ESU was happy to see the participants were extremely enthusiastic about the sessions within the training, and from their feedback it was clear they were very motivated to get involved in the work of ANACIP or in the internal QA systems from their universities. During follow-up discussions with the participants, it showed that some of the participants are working now with ANACIP, while some others are involved in different student organisations from Moldova.

Capacity building workshop in Chisinau

22 September 2015

At the consortium meeting following the conference “From Quality Assurance to Strategy Development” (April 2015), teaching staff from the Moldovan universities in the consortium expressed their interest in an additional capacity building workshop on how to define qualifications in terms of learning outcomes and how to come up with a work procedure for development and validation of qualifications prior to an accreditation process.

Accordingly, a training on capacity building took place in Chisinau during 14–18 September 2015. The main organizer and host was Tiraspol State University in Chisinau. The welcome speech was made by the interim Rector, Prof. Lora Moşanu-Şupac. This was followed by a number of presentations to give the participants input for the for their later work. Mrs. Tatiana Gherştega, Senior Consultant at Ministry of Education, made a presentation regarding the National Qualifications Framework in the Republic of Moldova. Prof. Dr. Ing. Mariana Mocanu, from the University Politehnica Bucharest, Romania, presented the general concepts of the Qualification Framework, the necessity and applicability of competence orientation in Higher Education. Prof. Dr. Dino Mujkić (WUS Austria), spoke about the link between qualifications and the occupations in the Labor Market and about the importance of testing curricula, based on examples from Bosnian universities. This was followed by a discussion regarding the importance of labour market needs in developing a qualification.

After the presentations of the general concepts regarding qualification framework and competence orientation in Higher Education, the workshop continued in small working groups. Each working group analysed the specificity of their study programmes and elaborated the description of one or more qualifications from the domain to which the study programme belongs. At the end of the workshop, the working groups presented their results and discussed their outcomes in plenum.

Read about the workshop in more detail in QUAEM's Newsletter No. 4.

AQAS and QUAEM support ANACIP board member selection

20 July 2015

In May and July, Heli Mattisen, Director/Head of EKKA (Estonia); Maiki Udam, Director of Development and International Cooperation, EKKA; Lucien Bollaert, board of executives of NVAO (The Netherlands/Belgium); Prof. Dr. Marcus Siebolds, Chair of AQAS Accreditation Commission for Institutional Accreditation; and Doris Herrmann, Head of AQAS (Germany), formed a Competition Committee whose task it was to select the members of the interim governing board of the new National Agency for Quality Assurance in Professional Education (ANACIP).

The Competition Committee acted on the basis of the “Regulation on the Organization and Conduct of the Competition for Selecting Members in the Governing Board of the National Agency for Quality Assurance in Professional Education (ANACIP)”. Their task was to identify fifteen board members, of which thirteen were to have a scientific background, one had to be a student representative, and one needed to represent the labour market. The selection process was not easy because many qualified candidates applied for a position in the Board of ANACIP.

Four QUAEM team members representing four universities in Moldova were selected as members of the governing board of ANACIP: Lora Moșanu-Șupac, Liliana Rotaru, Lilian Șaptefrați, and Andrei Chiciuc. During the following recruitment competitions, two other QUAEM team members, Felicia Banu and Stela Guvir, were employed as heads of departments in the administrative apparatus of ANACIP.

Read about the selection process in more detail in QUAEM's Newsletter No. 4.

Project extended until August 2016!

15 January 2015

At the consortium meeting in April 2014 in Chisinau, the consortium members of QUAEM agreed to apply for an extension of the project's eligibility period. EACEA graciously agreed to the proposal, and thus the project can continue until 31 August 2016.

Several reasons led to the consortium's decision to extend the project; primarily, however, the partner institutions agreed that the sustainability of student involvement needed to be improved. While QUAEM has achieved far more than its original goals in other areas, student involvement has not yet reached the level envisioned at the beginning of the project. Therefore, improving student involvement will be a special area of focus for the remainder of the project.

2014 field monitoring finalized

April 2014

Visited Partners: State University of Moldova (SUM), Alecu Russo State University Balti (USB), State University Cahul (SUC), Technical University of Moldova (TUM), State University of Medicine and Pharmacy (SUMPh), Tiraspol State University (TSU), Ministry of Education of Moldova (MEM)

The objectives of this monitoring were (i) to familiarize the project management with the structure of the QA system at the Moldovan partner universities; (ii) to get an update on the preparation of self-evaluation reports for the international accreditation; (iii) to verify the arrival and project-conform use of the technical equipment purchased within the framework of the project; (iv) to get feedback from the partner universities where they see priorities within the remaining activities of the project and (v) to get feedback on the state of the implementation of the Moldovan QA agency and the perspective for the remaining 15 study programmes to undergo an international, bi-national or national accreditation.

Read about the findings of the site visits in the full monitoring report.

Workshop in Leipzig

10 February 2014

On 4–5 February 2014, the workshop ”Study Programmes Accreditation as External Quality Assurance“ took place at the Centre for Area Studies of the University of Leipzig. The focus of this Tempus QUAEM workshop were the details of the upcoming accreditation procedures at the universities of the Republic of Moldova. Together with the AQAS consultants, the university representatives discussed the criteria that will be used for the accreditation procedures. Since those will be in accordance with the European Standards and Guidelines, it proved important to discuss the understandings of the criteria and also outline potential needs for adaption in the Moldovan system.

Furthermore, the workshop was helpful in outlining the different perspectives on the impacts and outcomes of an accreditation from the perspective of a university undergoing the procedure and an external quality assurance agency. It became clear that, besides the intended outcomes, an accreditation procedure also has several unintended side effects arising through the required self-assessment of the programme under review.

Considering the current establishment of a Moldovan accreditation agency, the workshop was also used to provide information of the structures of AQAS as an example of an external quality assurance agency following European standards. Besides the need for transparency and independent decision making processes, the general role of an agency in the procedure was discussed.

Roskilde site visit

2 December 2013

During 28–30 November 2013, Roskilde University hosted all partners in the QUAEM consortium. On Thursday November 28, a consortium meeting was held in the old town hall in the centre of Roskilde. During the constructive meeting, the first year of the project was evaluated. Also, the next year of the project was planned, making clear that much interesting work lays ahead for all partners.

After some sightseeing in windy Roskilde and a good night of rest, the programme continued the next day with a site visit to Roskilde University. Here, everyone was welcomed and introduced to Roskilde University by the head of the international board at the university, before a representative of the Teaching and Learning Unit presented the learning-centred approach in the quality system of the university. After this, the Danish Accreditation Agency presented the accreditation system in Denmark. One of the specific focus areas of the Danish system is the involvement of stakeholders not the least employers in the designing and development of study programmes. This was illustrated by the story of how one of Roskilde University’s new study programmes was designed in close cooperation with international employers within the area. The various presentations were eagerly discussed by all participants, which was much appreciated by the hosts. 

Find the site visit program here and CHE's project progress survey results here.

Site visit to AQU Catalonia

29 October 2013

From 21–24 October 2013, the QUAEM participants traveled to Gerona for a site visit to Agency for Assurance of Quality Catalonia (AQU Catalonia) in Barcelona and the final Quality Assurance training. The event was organized by AQU Catalonia and the University of Girona (UdG) as part of the first QUAEM work package.

Representatives from all Moldovan public universities and the Moldovan Ministry of Education met their European counterparts from Austria, Denmark, Germany and Spain to prepare further cornerstones needed in order to set up the Moldovan Agency for Quality Assurance. Different topics were discussed, for instance the preparation of possible systemic recommendations for the Moldovan Higher Education institutions on QA for new degree programmes. The representatives from the host institution presented their experience related to the implementation of the QA system in Spain and Catalonia and its functioning on different levels using the concrete examples of AQU Catalonia and UdG.

2013 field monitoring finalized

April 2013

Visited Partners: State University of Moldova (SUM), Alecu Russo State University Balti (USB), State University Cahul (SUC), Technical University of Moldova (TUM), State University of Medicine and Pharmacy (SUMPh), Tiraspol State University (TSU), Ministry of Education of Moldova (MEM), student representatives of all Consortium universities

The 2013 field monitoring revealed a high satisfaction of partners with the project. All the foreseen activities have been implemented, the partners involved were highly motivated, and the political situation seemed to be favorable to the implementation of the project. Consequently the expectations towards the Consortium were increasing.

The Ministry of Education has developed an organic law on the establishment of an Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Moldova and asked the QUAEM consortium to render an expert opinion on it. The plan of the Ministry is to have this law adopted by the end of 2013 at the latest and to start to develop the necessary basis for the activity of the agency.

The meeting with students’ representatives revealed a high interest of students to be actively involved at all levels (institutional for the internal audit and the preparation for accreditation, national for the creation of students pool of experts and international for the recruitment of the most active ones in the ESU pool of experts). In the meantime students expressed the wish to engage in a more active dialogue with ESU.

Read the full project monitoring report.