Each site-visit to a university or higher education institution is undertaken by a team of reviewers. The reviewers all have substantial expertise in quality assurance and great international experience.
For an institutional accreditation, a review team consists normally of five people: a Chair, a Secretary, a student and two further reviewers. The Chair is in charge of the coordination of the team. The Secretary is in charge of practical arrangements and compiles the draft report. The student is a full member of the team. Besides the coordination and the drafting of the report, there is no pre-defined division of responsibilities and the team agrees amongst themselves about the arrangements.
For a programme accreditation, a review team consists normally of four people: a Chair, a Secretary, a student and one further reviewer.
EQAA’s reviewers are typically current or former Rectors, Vice-Rectors, high-ranking officials from national authorities or international organisations, higher education researchers and international experts on higher education. If an institution wishes that a reviewer with a specific background or field of expertise is incorporated into the team (e.g. an employer or a person), this can normally be discussed and arranged with EQAA. The student reviewers are chosen from the Student Experts Pool on Quality Assurance of the European Students’ Union all of whom underwent specific trainings and gained international experience.
The reviewers are chosen by EQAA. Their names are communicated to the applying institution in advance of the site-visit. The institution has the possibility to object to reviewers on the grounds of potential conflicts of interest.
EQAA has a very selective policy of choosing its reviewers. All reviewers need to possess wide-ranging experience in quality assurance. In addition, the reviewers EQAA engages must have been active in the international higher education environment. This is understood as a crucial element, as in this way it will be ensured that the assessment done by the reviewers does not reflect the situation in their home countries, but rather ensures that international best practices are the centre of attention. After all, EQAA provides an international accreditation and not a foreign accreditation.
Furthermore, only through engaging internationally experienced reviewers EQAA ensures that the institutions in the process of accreditation will be assessed within the specific context in which they operate, as reviewers are trained to understand the differences of higher education systems and national settings. Contextualisation is key to ensuring that the institutions receive an objective assessment.
Even though EQAA only engages highly experienced reviewers, EQAA also provides trainings for reviewers in order to ensure that they are always most up-to-date in all areas of relevance.