Quality assurance in higher education is an indispensable component of responsible higher education policy. For employers, accreditation is also important for securing skilled labour. Representatives of professional practice are therefore involved at all levels of the accreditation system: in the Accreditation Council, in the commissions of the accreditation agencies and in the expert teams in each accreditation procedure on site at the universities.
With its expertise, the professional practice at all levels of the accreditation system contributes to ensuring that the criterion of "employability/professional qualification" in particular is given greater weight in the study programmes and generally in the university profiles.
From quality assurance to quality development
Accreditation has played an important role as a yardstick and corrective in the implementation of the Bologna reform. The international orientation of higher education and the need for international recognition of degrees made it necessary for accreditation to be designed as a European-based quality assurance instrument and for the results of accreditation procedures to be made public. The BDA expressly welcomes this.
Since then, in addition to the quality of individual study programmes, the quality of internal university processes in the area of teaching and study has become increasingly important. A comprehensive quality management system developed by each university itself facilitates profiling, target group orientation and further quality improvements and justifies public confidence in the performance of autonomous universities. The BDA therefore supports the transition from accreditation of individual study programmes to accreditation of the entire internal quality management system of the higher education institution. Higher education institutions can choose for themselves whether to have their study programmes accredited individually (programme accreditation) or whether to have their system of internal quality assurance in teaching and learning reviewed (system accreditation). In this context, it is essential that representatives of professional practice are always present at the peer reviews, which are carried out by system-accredited higher education institutions themselves.
New legal basis endangers the functioning of accreditation
On 1 January 2018, the accreditation system in Germany was given a new legal basis. In doing so, the role of science in the system was strengthened and thus the central demand of the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) of February 2016 was implemented. In the joint state treaty, the 16 federal states also agreed to shift the decision-making function away from the ten accreditation agencies, which specialise in different disciplines, and towards the
. From the point of view of the BDA, this was legally unnecessary. The employers warned early on that this would lead to more bureaucracy as well as to a prolongation and increase in the cost of future procedures.
Since then, the Accreditation Council has threatened to become the eye of the needle for the between 1,000 and 1,600 procedures to be decided annually. This endangers the functioning of the accreditation system as a whole and, in the worst case, could also damage confidence in the quality of Germany as a higher education location.
From the point of view of the BDA, the accreditation agencies must now design the programme and system accreditations in practice in such a way that deficiencies identified in the procedure are already remedied by the study programmes or higher education institutions before the procedure is submitted to the Accreditation Council for a final decision. Only in this way can it be guaranteed that the Accreditation Council and thus the quality assurance system remains operational.