Accreditation of Study Programmes

Why Accreditation? Aims and Benefits

International competition between higher education institutions is constantly increasing. In order to attract the best students, a higher education institution must provide high-quality education. A quality seal awarded by an experienced and renowned agency therefore creates a tangible competitive advantage on the higher education market.

The external assessment of study programmes is an occasion for higher education institutions to systematically analyze their teaching and learning processes, to identify strengths and shortcomings and to decide upon adequate measures for improvement.


Who can apply for Accreditation?

On principle, ZEvA works together with higher education institutions both inside and outside the European Higher Education Area. To be eligible for accreditation (at programme level or at institutional level), a higher education institution should meet the following requirements:

•    It should be state-recognized and hence legally entitled to award academic degrees.
•    Degree programmes should incorporate international academic standards and qualifications frameworks.
•    The institution should not serve any political or religious causes or doctrines which compromise its neutrality in teaching and research or cause it to disregard general principles and standards of the scientific community.
•    Making financial profit should not be its prime mission.
•    It should take a student-centered and outcome-oriented approach to teaching and learning. Degrees should be awarded based on the achievement of intended learning outcomes (acquisition of knowledge and competencies).
•    It should have defined quality standards for all central areas of activity and should have developed instruments to monitor adherence to these standards.
•    It should be able to demonstrate that it is well established in the national and international scientific community, as, for instance, by membership in university networks.

Design of the Accreditation Procedure

ZEvA takes a multidimensional approach to programme assessment which accounts for various indicators, such as the qualification profile of graduates, the acquisition of knowledge and competencies, the design and implementation of study programmes, adherence to general academic standards or the efficient use of resources.

In most cases, an assessment procedure refers to a single study programme or to a cluster of closely related programmes.

The assessment criteria and the procedural steps (self-report, on-site talks, expert report and written response of the higher education institution) are fundamentally based on the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG). Furthermore, the review procedure takes a focus on the implementation of ECTS and the Framework of Qualifications for the European Higher Education Area.

All study programmes that have successfully passed the assessment procedure are awarded the ZEvA quality seal for a limited period of time (usually 5-7 years).

The final decision about the accreditation of the respective programmes lies with ZEvA-Kommission (ZEKo).

By request, ZEvA assists higher education institutions in putting the recommendations of the expert panel into practice (Follow-up 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 KIA may revise its decision or prompt the agency to repeat the review procedure completely or in parts.


Further Information

ZEvA has developed a Manual for the International Accreditation of Study Programmes which contains detailed descriptions of the procedure and the assessment criteria. The manual can be downloaded here:
External Assessment of Study Programmes (PDF-File)

Please click the following link for examples of accreditation reports (completed procedures):
Projects and References