Which procedure for which higher education institution – System Accreditation, Institutional Audit or Programme Accreditation?
National and international experts will be offering orientation and support for higher education institutions interested in accreditation and auditing at a discussion forum in Kassel on 15th April 2008. By introducing systemised accreditation, universities and Fachhochschulen have greater freedom of choice among several external evaluation procedures.
To date, HEIs have only been able to select which one of the six existing and competing agencies they wanted to certify the quality of their study programmes. The procedure has since been defined, however: programme accreditation. The range will be extended from spring 2008 following a resolution of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education (Kultusministerkonferenz). The accreditation of quality management systems for teaching and studies will be available as an alternative. As most HEIs are still in the process of establishing a QM system, there is a third option: to carry out so-called ”Institutional Audits“ or ”Institutional Evaluations“. This procedure offers feedback and support without giving a concluding evaluation in the form of a yes/no-decision (admitted/not admitted) as is the case with system accreditation.
The question now is which of the three procedures will most effectively support the development of quality in HEIs and is in addition financially acceptable. Depending on the size and disciplines on offer it might be better to stick to a programme accreditation, especially since cost in the area can be reduced by using the option of cluster accreditation. There is also the question of when it is reasonable for HEIs to try a system accreditation. The criteria given by the accreditation council provide that QM systems for teaching and studies are to be either accredited or not. There is no conditional accreditation. There is a high financial risk for an HEI that is not sure of a positive outcome in the system accreditation. In addition, experience shows that the establishment of a QM system at universities and Fachhochschulen is a protracted and complex task, at least if it is aimed at an effective and sustainable quality development. And this should be the true aim of all the efforts made in response to the legitimisation pressure that in Germany in recent years has emerged from the ”Akkreditis“. Against this background, an ”Institutional Audit“ or ”Institutional Evaluation“ is an alternative to system accreditation because it ”helps HEIs to help themselves“.
Further Information can be found in the publication stated below.