14th GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE EUROPEAN QUALITY ASSURANCE REGISTER FOR HIGHER EDUCATION (EQAR) TOOK PLACE IN SOFIA
The Fourteenth General Assembly of the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) took place in Sofia within the Bulgarian Presidency of the European Union. The forum was opened by the Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Ms. Denitsa Sacheva.
The draft Strategy for the period until 2022 defines the Register as one of the pillars of the European Higher Education Area. EQAR is an example of the opportunities for countries and institutions to work together to achieve common goals and priorities. The two strategic goals for the period, namely ensuring transparency and information, and international trust and recognition, are of paramount importance. EQAR is expected to continue to ensure high quality in the European higher education and to be a source of new ideas.
Deputy Minister Sacheva said that the issue of the development of EQAR will also be discussed at the Conference of Ministers responsible for higher education in Paris in May this year.
During the General Assembly delegates adopted a number of documents, namely the Strategy for Development of the Register by 2022, the Report for 2017, an Action Plan and a Budget for 2018. The new team of the EQAR Executive Board was also elected. It includes experts with experience and contribution to higher education, and in particular in the field of quality assurance. The EQAR President, Karl Dietrich, described the General Assembly in Sofia as one of the most successful in the history of the Registry.
Bulgaria is one of the first countries to sign the Declaration on the creation of a European Higher Education Area in 1999 in Bologna. Every two to three years, in order to track the progress in meeting the Bologna process objectives and to prioritize the actions for the next period, meetings of ministers responsible for higher education are organized. During their regular meeting in May 2007, European Ministers responsible for Higher Education, including the Bulgarian Deputy Minister, gave a mandate to the E4 Group to establish the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR). The E4 Group includes the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), the European Student Union (ESU), the European University Association (EUA) and the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE). In 2008, they set up EQAR with the main objective of further develop the European Higher Education Area by increasing transparency in quality assurance, a thus enhancing trust in European higher education. All Agencies entered in the Register have the right to conduct evaluation procedures for higher education institutions in other countries. Under the Higher Education Act, in Bulgaria, apart from the National Evaluation and Accreditation Agency (NEAA), such right is also granted to all agencies registered in EQAR. It takes place at the request of the respective higher education institution. At the same time, the only institution authorized to accredit higher education institutions in Bulgaria, is NEAA - an independent body to the Council of Ministers.
There are different categories of EQAR members: founding members, social partners and government representatives, usually from the relevant Ministry responsible for higher education. This category includes the Ministry of Education and Science of Bulgaria.