The European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes (adopted by Ministers in Yerevan on 14-15 May 2015) is meant to be a huge step forward in removing barriers in QA for establishing and operating joint programmes. This approach has been design to enable any EQAR-registered external quality assurance agency to carry out a single QA procedure of a joint programme using the agreed European criteria and methodology. The outcomes of this single QA procedure should then be accepted by the other EHEA countries that are involved in the joint programme. However, despite the fact that this single accreditation approach was highly expected by all stakeholders, its practical implementation faced numerous challenges and obstacles.
In 2017, when the ImpEA project was launched, only 19 out of 49 countries of the European Higher Education Area offered higher education institutions the possibility to use the European Approach at all.
The main aim of the project was to support efficient implementation of the European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes. This aim was meant to be achieved by successful completion of the following objectives:
- Identifying key obstacles in implementation of the European Approach in the European Higher Education Area in general, and project partner countries in particular;
- Supporting partner QA agencies in running EA-based programme accreditation procedures (ex ante and ex post)
- Supporting partner HEIs in pursuing the external accreditation based on the EA;
- Developing an EA implementation toolkit (set of recommendations and proposed solutions for the policy makers and QA agencies).
The main target audience and direct impact groups of the project were the following: European and national policy-making bodies, higher education institutions, quality assurance agencies in terms of enhanced awareness and understanding of the European Approach. For the project partners and participants of of the project events, this was achieved through their direct involvement in, and contribution to the activities. This means in particular the work carried out in order to develop and deliver the intellectual outputs, training events, multiplier and dissemination activities.
Above-mentioned members of the project target groups, not engaged in the project activities directly, this ‘enhanced capacity’ effect will be achieved through the project publications, dissemination activities and foremost, the availability of the European Approach online toolkit (www.impea.eu).
The ImpEA project has received a very keen interest throughout its duration and past it. This means that the project was able to generate a robust outreach to the main target groups. More then 1650 participants took part in the project and third-party events, where the European Approach to Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes and ImpEA project were discussed and presented. The main participant groups were higher education institutions (approx. 1070 participants), quality assurance agencies (250), students (370), policy making bodies (100), stakeholder organisations (ENQA, ECA, ESU, EUA) and other interested parties (i.e.EQAR, ENIC-NARIC). The direct and indirect project dissemination activities were aimed to reach national, European and global audience.
In 2020, at the end of the ImpEA project, the number of EHEA countries accepting the EA-based accreditation procedure has significantly increased. This means that out of 49 EHEA countries, 29 introduced favourable legal frameworks.