Critical friends or independent critics? On trust relationships in external quality assurance in Flemish higher education

NameBS IIIb3_Cortvriendt.pdf
Size0.2 MB
Author(s)Mieke Beckers, Dieter Cortvriendt, Patrick Van den Bosch
The Quality Assurance Unit (QAU) of the Flemish Universities and Colleges Council (VLUHR) is assigned to coordinate the external quality assurance of the Bachelor and Master programmes organised by the Flemish universities and university colleges. The actual assessments are carried out by a panel of peers. In order to organise the study programme assessments successfully, high levels of trust must exist between the QAU and the panels (and a number of other actors like the higher education institutions, the accreditation body  and the Flemish government). In this paper, we will focus on some of the trust relations between the QAU and the programmes, and more precisely on the selection of the panel of peers which carry out the assessments and which can be seen as the focal ‘mediators of trust’ of the whole assessment system. We will argue that trust, independence and expertise are not unambiguous notions and that a panel must both act as critical friends and independent critics in order to establish trust relationships, and as such form the nexus in the checks and balances in the whole system of quality assurance.
CategoriesQuality of HE » 2011 6th EQAF