AQAS is a non-profit organisation registered under German law and recognised by all relevant international networks / associations.
AQAS as an institution takes an integral part in the further development of the European Higher Education Area. We are a full member of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), which represents various European bodies validating or developing quality assurance in HEIs. Therefore, AQAS is committed to act according the „European Standards and Guidelines“, developed by ENQA and further stakeholders in higher education and approved by the ministers in charge of higher education in the EHEA first in 2005 and further (revised) in 2015. AQAS is also a founding member of the European Consortium for Accreditation (ECA). In 2004, all members signed a „Code of Good Practice“ to ensure fair and transparent accreditation procedures. AQAS is listed in the European Quality Assurance Register (EQAR).
With its international commitment, AQAS contributes to the development of new methodologies in the EHEA and can therefore offer wide experience and support for smoother procedures e.g. for the accreditation of Joint Programmes. In addition, AQAS also offers external quality assurance procedures and consulting to HEIs abroad making use of our broad experiences in external quality assurance projects in various regions and countries.
Internationality is included in our work on the operational level as well: international members are frequently part of AQAS’ commissions and expert panels.
Our Structure / Structure of AQAS e.V.
The following chart shows the organisational structure of AQAS e. V. In order to guarantee independence, professionalism and a high level of quality of the internal procedures, AQAS operates through various commissions and internal units with different tasks. This way, a clear division of tasks and power is guaranteed for all accreditation and review procedures.
AQAS is a membership organisation with mainly Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences as members. That is why AQAS in the core of our philosophy serves Higher Education Institutions in carrying out external quality assurance procedures. The General Assembly represents all member institutions and meets once a year to – amongst other responsibilities – biannually elect the Management Board. The Management Board takes all strategic decisions always having in mind the perspective of HEIs, reports to the general assembly once a year and appoints the members of the Accreditation Commissions.
If your organisation applies for a programme or for an institutional accreditation, a specialised Accreditation Commission is in charge that:
- formally decides on the opening of a procedure and, if necessary, gives feedback to your self-evaluation report on completeness and comprehensibility,
- nominates the expert group that fits your procedure,
- takes a decision on the basis of the experts’ report and your statement to the report on the accreditation.
Since the Accreditation Commissions include members from all types of HEIs and from various disciplines, the specificities of your programme and/or your institution can be considered.
In case of a complaint or appeal, in a first step the respective Accreditation Commission deals with it in order to find a solution. If no consensus is reached, you have the possibility to raise your complaint or appeal to another specialised unit – the Complaint Commission. The Complaint Commission is mainly composed of independent members.
During the whole accreditation procedure, the AQAS Head Office located in Cologne is in service to support you. AQAS offers information and support to the Higher Education Institution at all steps of an accreditation procedure. We offer free consultation concerning the accreditation procedure at the AQAS office in Cologne before starting a procedure. To give guidance during a procedure, AQAS provides for example guidelines for preparing an application for programme accreditation or for an institutional accreditation. The agencies also give continuous feedback during all steps of a procedure.
Our Philosophy / AQAS e.V. Mission statement
We understand ourselves as an institution supported by higher education institutions and academic associations. We are devoted to quality assurance and quality development of both academic studies and teaching in higher education institutions. Our main task is the quality assessment of degree programmes and of academic institutions.
Accreditation procedures advance the diversity of degree programmes, assure quality and create transparency. Consequently, they contribute to their international comparability and recognition and provide future students with reliable information. Through accreditation procedures we assess academic quality and labour market orientation. This applies to a broad variety of degree programmes and to different types of higher education institutions. Thus, we advance the further development of higher education and contribute to an improvement of quality.
AQAS e.V. is one of the institutions involved in the creation of the European Higher Education Area and makes a contribution to the development of reliable and comparable systems of quality assurance in both national and international contexts.
Resulting from our Mission statement we believe that:
- The responsibility for the quality of a study programme or an institution lies with the Higher Education Institution while we take responsibility for the quality of the external review process.
- An external review procedure enables the Higher Education Institution to demonstrate the fulfilment of defined standards, while it also contributes to the further development of quality.
How does AQAS e.V. support Higher Education Institutions?
AQAS e.V. offers information and support to the Higher Education Institution at all steps of an accreditation procedure. We offer free consultation concerning the accreditation process at the AQAS office in Cologne before starting a procedure. To give guidance during a procedure, AQAS e.V. provides for example guidelines for preparing an application for programme accreditation or for an institutional accreditation. The agencies give continuous feedback during all steps of a procedure.
Panels of experts are individually chosen for each accreditation procedure. The experts are nominated by the respective AQAS accreditation commission. Together with the Higher Education Institution AQAS defines the profile of each panel of experts and prepares the experts for their tasks. For a better preparation we provide the Higher Education Institution with preliminary statements of the experts before a site visit takes place. A consultant will accompany the panel of experts during their site visit and prepare the group for their task. A consultant will also help in the process of report writing. The report is sent to the HEI for comments before it is forwarded to the respective accreditation commission. Once the accreditation procedure is finished, AQAS informs the HEI about the results. If required, appeal procedures are in place at all stages in the procedure.
AQAS e.V. strictly differentiates content-related consulting from accreditation. For an accreditation procedure this implies that AQAS only provides procedural consultation concerning the accreditation process. Content-related consulting, on the other hand, is not part of the services of AQAS e.V.
AQAS is an active member in international associations
- Listed in EQAR
The European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) is a register of such agencies, including those that substantially comply with a common set of principles for quality assurance in Europe.
- Full Member of ENQA
The European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) is an umbrella organization which represents its members at the European level and internationally, especially in political decision making processes and in co-operations with stakeholder organizations.
- Full member of ECA
European Consortium of Accreditation Agencies is a professional organization that strives for continuous progress in the area of accreditation and external quality assurance, facilitates mutual recognition of qualifications, promotes internationalization of higher education and creates transparency in QA to the benefit of students, HE institutions and society.
- Full Member of INQAAHE
The International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE) is a world-wide association of over 200 organizations active in the theory and practice of quality assurance in higher education. The great majority of its members are quality assurance agencies that operate in many different ways, although the Network also welcomes (as associate members) other organizations that have an interest in QA in HE.
Um den Hochschulen, die sich durch AQAS akkreditieren lassen, Verfahren anbieten zu können, die internationalen Standards entsprechen, sind wir aktives Mitglied in den einschlägigen europäischen und internationalen Qualitätsnetzwerken.
Die aktuellen Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG) finden Sie hier.
ENQA ist die europäische Dachorganisation der Qualitätssicherungs- und Akkreditierungsagenturen. Im Auftrag der Minister der Bologna-Staaten und in Zusammenarbeit mit EUA, ESIB und EURASHE erarbeitete ENQA die European Standards and Guidelines (ESG). AQAS ist seit 2008 Vollmitglied bei ENQA.
ECA (European Consortium for Accreditation)
ECA ist ein Zusammenschluss europäischer Akkreditierungsagenturen, der auf die gegenseitige Anerkennung von Akkreditierungsentscheidungen zwischen den Mitgliedern hinwirkt. AQAS ist Gründungsmitglied und Unterzeichner von MULTRA (Multilateral Agreement on the Mutual Recognition of Accreditation Results regarding Joint Programmes).
AQAS ist Partnerorganisation des ECA-Projekts JOQAR (Joint programmes: Quality Assurance and Recognition of degrees awarded). Im Rahmen des Projekts haben wir drei Pilotakkreditierungen durchgeführt. Die hier gewonnenen Erfahrungen sind in das Abkommen MULTRA eingegangen.
EQAR (European Quality Assurance Register)
EQAR versteht sich als zentrales Verzeichnis der Akkreditierungsagenturen in Europa, die sich bei ihrer Tätigkeit durch die Umsetzung der „European Standards and Guidelines“ (ESG) auszeichnen. AQAS wird seit 2009 im Register geführt.
INQAAHE (International Quality Assurance Association for Higher Education Institutions)
Ziel von INQAAHE ist die Sammlung und Bereitstellung von Informationen über gängige und neue Theorien und Methoden im Bereich der Bewertung, Verbesserung und Aufrechterhaltung der Qualität im Hochschulsystem. AQAS ist seit 2011 Mitglied des Netzwerks.
DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst)
Der DAAD ist eine gemeinsame Einrichtung der deutschen Hochschulen und fördert die internationalen Beziehungen der deutschen Hochschulen mit dem Ausland durch den Austausch von Studierenden und Wissenschaftlern sowie durch internationale Programme und Projekte. Zudem fungiert der DAAD als Mittlerorganisation der Auswärtigen Kulturpolitik, der Hochschul- und Wissenschaftspolitik sowie der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit im Hochschulbereich. AQAS kooperiert mit dem DAAD in mehreren Projekten.
ESU (The European Student’s Union)
Die ESU ist der Dachverband der europäischen Studierendenschaften mit 47 Mitgliedsverbänden aus 39 Ländern und vertritt über diese mehr als 12 Millionen Studierende auf europäischer Ebene. Das Hauptziel von ESU ist die Wahrung der bildungspolitischen, sozialen, wirtschaftlichen und kulturellen Interessen der Studierende und deren Vertretung gegenüber europäischen und internationalen Institutionen wie dem Europarat, der Europäischen Union oder der UNESCO.
AQAS kooperiert in internationalen Verfahren mit ESU, um studentische GutachterInnen für Akkreditierungsverfahren zu gewinnen.
AQAS is also authorised to carry out audits at Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences in Austria (in accordance with Article 22(2) HS-QSG).
Agency for Quality Assurance
E-Mail protected email
Telefon +49 221 / 995006-0
Fax +49 221 / 995006-99
How to find us:
For more information on international procedures and activities please contact:
Doris Herrmann M.A.
Managing Director for Strategy,
Process and International
Head of Sector International
+49 (0) 221 / 995 006-21
+49 (0) 170 / 579 65-37
German, English, Dutch
Ronny Heintze M.A.
Commissioner for international projects
+49 (0) 221 / 995 006-32
+49 (0) 170 / 579 65-36
German, English, French