At its 54th meeting in Berlin on October 8, 2007, the Accreditation Council defined binding criteria and procedural rules for System Accreditation, which provided the necessary basis for the introduction of system accreditation in Germany. Hence, following the official approval of the Standing Conference of State Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, system accreditation was established as a complementary alternative to program accreditation. Higher education institutions can now choose between the option of traditional programme or cluster accreditation and the evaluation of their internal system of quality assurance in teaching and learning (system accreditation).
Ideally, system accreditation results in the accreditation of all study programs offered by a higher education institution. System accreditation has the overall objective of evaluating an institution’s internal system of quality assurance in teaching and learning. The relevant institutional structures and processes are checked for their ability to ensure the high quality of the study programs and the achievement of qualification goals. In this, ZEvA adheres to the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, the standards of the Standing Conference of State Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) and the criteria of the Accreditation Council.
A positive system accreditation certifies that the higher education institution’s system of quality assurance in teaching and learning is suitable to ensure the achievement of qualification goals and the high quality standard of its study programmes. The accreditation decision applies to all study programmes which are introduced subsequent to accreditation and to programmes which have already undergone internal quality assurance on the basis of the accredited system. Hence, system accreditation makes it possible for higher education institutions to have the reliability of their internal quality assurance system certified.
ZEvA welcomes the decisions of the Standing Conference of State Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs and the Accreditation Council to introduce system accreditation and thereby assign the main responsibility for quality assurance in teaching and learning to the higher education institutions. Therefore, on November 11, 2007, ZEvA applied for the authorization to conduct system accreditation. This authorization was granted by the Accreditation Council at the occasion of its 57th meeting on October 31, 2008.
To receive a positive system accreditation decision, every higher education institution needs to demonstrate that its internal management and quality assurance systems are fit to ensure compliance with the rules and regulations for the accreditation of study programs set up by the Standing Conference of State Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs and the Accreditation Council. In order to do so, the institution needs an internal reporting system to document structures and processes regarding the development and implementation of study programmes, as well as the outcomes and impacts of quality assurance structures, processes and procedures.
During system accreditation, an institution’s entire quality assurance system is thoroughly tested for effectiveness: in addition to the overall assessment, a sample of features of the programmes or even entire study programmes are reviewed in depth to ascertain the functionability of the quality management system. The criteria and codes of practice for system accreditation are in accordance with the current European standards for quality assurance in teaching and learning and thus ensure international acceptance of the new procedure.
Appeals to accreditation decisions may be directed to the ZEvA Appeals Commission within a period of one month after notification of the decision. Higher education institutions may also lodge complaints regarding procedural errors or irregularities. Based on the recommendation of the Appeals Commission, the Standing Accreditation Commission may revise its decision or prompt the agency to repeat the review procedure completely or in parts.
Decisions and Reports about System Accreditations (in German) can be found here.