Throughout Europe, higher education institutions on regularly basis ought to go through an external process that will assess their quality and the system they have in place to assure it. Students, main education consumer, should play an important role in the processes that examine the quality of education. But due to lack of capacity, expertise and professional experience, their feedback is often disregarded and participation discouraged. The project aims to provide students with sufficient knowledge and resources to ensure their position as equal partners in the institutions’ evaluation. Recent changes in the Slovak legislature (Law on Quality Assurance in Higher Education, 269/2018 Z. z.) and lacking students experts in Hungary forced both student unions to seek an expert support in the European Students' Union and the European Consortium for Accreditation. In 24 months the four organisations will address challenges met not only by students and QA system in Slovakia and Hungary but are spread all around the continent. The results of the projects will raise awareness and develop strategies for more meaningful European students’ involvement in the quality assurance.
The main activities of the project include:
- Development of training materials (trainer handbook & video course) for the purposes of student experts’ training. These should based on both the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG) and national specific regulations on quality assurance. These materials will be available for an open access and will be used also by other national and institutional students' unions.
- Student expert training is the main learning activity that will directly contribute to the creation of the student expert pool both in Hungary and Slovakia. This activity will make use of materials and other documents prepared throughout the project.
- The ESU QA Student Expert Pool is a network of student experts from entire Europe, established to support cross-border QA evaluations and foster the exchange of good practices and expertise. This project will boost the network by providing new materials, publications, and experts that will become a valuable asset for this developing network.
- Policy recommendations will be drafted both on national and European level to address the situation as identified by the reports and experts in participating countries.
- Awareness about QA is necessary for the sustainable continuation of the project and student expert recruitment. Report on the best practices on national levels will focus on the involvement of students in existing internal quality assurance system at individual universities. Two rounds of discussions with experts and students will help to spread findings of the report and other project outputs. The project will finish with two conferences, one will address the topic of QA and the place of students within that system. The second will focus on policy recommendations and presentation of ESU QA Student Expert Pool.
European Students' Union and European Consortium for Accreditation are partners with great experience and useful resources. This strategic partnership aims to make use of their experience, train Slovak and Hungarian QA experts, develop and translate materials so they could be used for future training purposes. In the later stages, when Slovak and Hungarian students' unions will work on their intellectual outputs, ESU and ECA will serve as evaluators and provide feedback to ensure high quality of the project outputs. As the systems are still developing any materials developed through this process will become a valuable resource for the future. Those are going to be also shared with other national students' unions in Europe to promote also greater European cooperation in this field.
The current situation opens an opportunity for students to participate in an evaluation of quality and raise voice in the future development of higher education, through this project we want to take this opportunity and provide students with means to participate on equal expert level.