CIPES - Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies
The growing importance given to quality in higher education and the development of more adequate models to assess quality in this context, especially during the last thirty years, led different countries to establish national systems for the evaluation and accreditation of study programmes and institutions, and even to independent agencies with the main responsibility of managing those systems and improve higher education quality. And Portugal is obviously not an exception in this respect.
In 2007 a new agency for the assessment and accreditation of higher education - A3ES, independent from both the government and the higher education institutions, was created with the purpose of promoting and ensuring the quality of higher education. The agency designed a new system of external quality assurance, based on study programmes accreditation. Furthermore it is working on the development of a system of institutional audits, with the main goal of certifying the higher education institutions internal quality assurance systems. In order to implement this audit system, the agency developed a set of standards for the certification of the institutions’ internal quality assurance systems, based on the ESG and other international experiences.
In this context it seems adequate and timely to assess the degree of implementation of these A3ES standards in Portuguese higher education institutions. The results of such a study are useful not only for the agency, in relation to its role in this context, but also to the institutions, which can obtain a diagnosis of their situation as well as compare themselves to other similar institutions.
The study had two main goals:
1) understand the importance the A3ES standards have for Portuguese higher education institutions, as a framework for the development of the institutions internal quality assurance systems;
2) assess the degree of implementation of the standards in the Portuguese higher education institutions.
To accomplish the two goals, a questionnaire was designed, based on the A3ES standards and guidelines, and sent to the whole population of Portuguese academics. The answers collected were subject to a statistical analysis allowing to better understand Portuguese academics’ opinions on both the importance of the A3ES standards for internal quality assurance and the degree of their implementation in Portuguese higher education institutions.
Internal Quality assurance Systems; ESG; A3ES Standards and guidelines