The paper takes a broad view of the present status of QA in Europe, as most of the structural goals of the Bologna process have been achieved and new challenges are mounted by the BFUG. It mainly addresses the question of how external QA can contribute to quality enhancement, beyond the obvious improvements and correction of weaknesses that follow from the control function. Discussing this topic, the issues of internationalisation, diversity and cost – all of them concerns of the BFUG – are also commented on.
The paper examines methodological characteristics and constraining circumstances concerning external QA and how these impose certain limitations on what external QA can actually achieve. The basic argument is that external QA is now heavily based on mechanisms that are methodologically single-purpose oriented but made to answer complex purposes in national ‘systems’. In order to make further progress in the direction of enhancement orientation, systematic controls must be ‘economical’, so as to give room for more genuinely enhancement-purpose processes, of which some examples are sketched.
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