Quality Assurance


Quality assurance approaches in higher education are well-established, but it is important to develop quality assurance and enhancement methods which apply to new modes of teaching and learning. The teaching, support and assessment  - whether online or face-to-face - needs to be of a high standard, so that students are challenged and engaged. Quality assurance frameworks can help to make this happen. 

Meet our experts on quality assurance
Karen Kear, Open University of the United Kingdom, (OUUK), [CHAIR]

Karen Kear is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Computing and Communications at the UK Open University, one of the world’s major distance learning institutions. As well as teaching Computing and IT, she is a leading researcher of online learning, and author of ‘Online and Social Networking Communities: a best practice guide for educators’, published by Routledge.

Karen has played a leading role in the EADTU’s E-xcellence initiatives for quality assurance and enhancement in e-learning. She co-authored two editions of the E-xcellence manual ‘Quality Assessment for E-learning: a Benchmarking Approach’ and has carried out E-xcellence reviews at universities across Europe. She is Chair of the EMPOWER field of expertise in Quality Assurance.

EMPOWER Envisioning report articles:

EMPOWER Webinars:

  • From 10 years of E-xcellence quality reviews for e-learning, Karen Kear & Jon Rosewell, September 2018
Anja Oskamp, The Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL)

Selection of activities: 

  • Professor in IT and Law. 
  • Former rector of the Open University of the Netherlands (2011-2019) 
  • Former dean of the Law Facutly of VU University (2005-2011) 
  • Former President of EADTU (2014-2018) 
  • Former Member Executive Committee EADTU (2011-2020) 
  • 2018- present Member of IEP (EAU) 
  • 2019 – present Member of the supervisory Board University of applied Sciences Rotterdam 
  • 2019 – present President Scientific Technology Board SURF 
  • 2019- present Vice president sectorplan Social Sciences and Humanities 
  • 2017-present Member of the supervisory board Koning Willem1 College 
  • 2018-present Member Advisory board Universidade Aberta Portugal 
  • 2013- 2018 Member Hochschulrat Fernuniversität Hagen (supervisory board) 
  • 2011 – 2012 Member International Audit Committee the Hague Institute for International Law 

Audit activities: 

  • 2019 Law School, university of Aruba (chair) 
  • 2019 Lodz University of Technology 
  • 2020 Thomas Bata University Ziln 
  • 2008- present numerous test audits for Open University and VU university 
Elif Toprak, Anadolu University

Dr. Elif Toprak is an Associate Professor of Applied Communications at Open Education Faculty, Anadolu University, Turkey. She received her BSc, MSc and PhD degrees in the discipline of International Relations (IR), from Middle East Technical University (METU), Bilkent University and Uludağ University respectively. She teaches IR Theory, Globalization and International Distance Education, International Communication and Public Diplomacy courses. Her research interests are international cooperation and regimes, intercultural communication, transnational higher education, administration in open and distance education, quality assurance and accreditation in open and distance learning. She is a member of Quality Commission of Anadolu University and is a Board member of the national accreditation agency for distance education, Association for Evaluation and Accreditation of Open and Distance Education Programs (AUDAK).

She also contributed to the webinar week on Blended Learning in June 2019 with the presentation called: Why Diversity Matter in ODL? Case of Anadolu University

Jon Rosewell, Open University of the United Kingdom (OUUK)
Keith Williams, Open University of the United Kingdom (OUUK)
Miguel Santamaría Lancho, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)
Covadonga Rodriguez, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)
André Vyt, Ghent University (UGent)
Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl, Dublin City Universiy (DCU)
Taina Saarinen, Jyväskylän yliopisto (JYU)

EMPOWER offers

Quality assurance systems for higher education vary widely across Europe and internationally. Points of difference include:

  • whether the focus of a quality assurance system is on checking compliance with standards or on rather on promoting quality enhancement;
  • the extent to which external oversight is required; 
  • the applicability to online, open and flexible learning, as opposed to just face-to-face contexts.

Mature quality assurance systems allow universities to set their own goals (and decide how to achieve them) within a broad framework of standards. Each university then has the flexibility to demonstrate performance against criteria which are relevant to its mission and context.  For example, the E-xcellence approach to quality assurance for e-learning is grounded in the belief that universities are well placed to assess the quality of their own e-learning and to identify what is relevant to their own context. The EADTU E-xcellence resources are designed to support universities in this, and to encourage a collegiate and collaborative approach to quality assurance. Taking another example, although MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) attract large numbers of learners, their completion rates are low. Could this situation be changed by focussing attention on quality assurance for MOOCs? The EADTU OpenUpEd initiative for quality assurance of MOOCs is based on this premise. Universities offering MOOCs can use the OpenUpEd framework to carry out a self-evaluation of their MOOCs, and of their approaches to developing them.



Quality in Higher Education Week:

19 & 20 September 2018

Quality frameworks for MOOCs

OpenupEd organised a webinar on Quality frameworks for MOOCs, including 6 short presentations related to various perspectives on quality. 

  • Checking MOOC quality afterwards: the case of accessibility by Francisco Iniesto (OUUK)
  • Quality assurance of MOOCs from an institutional perspective: the OpenupEd label by Jon Rosewell & Karen Kear (OUUK)
  • The student’s perspective on MOOC quality by Gohar Hovhannisyan (ESU)
  • How a MOOC platform checks the quality of MOOCs by Rebecca Love-Howard (FutureLearn)
  • How a MOOC platform checks the quality of MOOCs by Catherine Mongenet (FUN)
  • How to secure the quality of MOOCs in cross-sectoral / cross-institutional team: the case of the BizMOOC project by Darco Jansen (EADTU)

Main results EADTU-ENQA Peer Learning Activity on QA in blended and online education

The EADTU-ENQA PLA has identified next steps in the development of high quality blended degree and online continuing education in a dialogue between main stakeholders: universities, quality assurance agencies, governments and students. Only in a dialogue between these stakeholders, we can come to a favourable environment for further innovating education. This PLA showed a shared responsibility to accelerate innovation and quality of education and to find ways for improvement. Ways forward for all stakeholders separately and in dialogue will be presented. By George Ubachs (EADTU)

Main findings of the ENQA WG E-learning

Recognising that recommendations for quality assurance and e-learning have already been written, the WG decided to create a new focus: to systematically examine both the applicability and relevance of the standards as defined in the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG, 2015). Although each standard proved to be fully applicable to e-learning, some standards seemed to require special guidance on how they can be applied. The findings of this work are applicable to all forms of e-learning. Besides, it is meant to initiate discussion and the thinking process of stakeholders involved, e.g. HEIs, QA agencies, etc. It is not intended to be prescriptive. By Esther Huertas Hidalgo (AQU Catalunya) 

Lessons from 10 years of E-xcellence quality reviews for elearning

E-xcellence is a QA methodology with a strong quality enhancement focus. We analysed E-xcellence self-evaluations and roadmaps at twenty higher education institutions to identify the most challenging aspects of e-learning provision. The main challenges were: developing e-learning strategy, building online academic communities for students, and managing staff workload. There was also a strong focus on increasing the interactivity of learning materials. In contrast, the provision of reliable IT systems and hardware was unproblematic. By Karen Kear & Jon Rosewell (OUUK)

EMPOWER is carried out with the support of the European Commission, Dg EAC, under the Erasmus+ Programme, however, sole responsibility for this website lies with the EADTU and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.