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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Quality assurance in higher education

Belgium - French Community

11.Quality assurance

11.2Quality assurance in higher education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Responsible bodies

Higher education institutions have to monitor and manage the quality of all their activities and to take all measures for effective internal self-assessment and monitoring (Decree of 7th November 2013).

The decree of 14 November 2002 (amended by the decree of 22 February 2008) created the Agency for Quality Evaluation in Higher Education (AEQES) organised or subsidised by the French Community. Its scope of action is the external evaluation of the higher education's programmes (initial training) offered by the universities, the Hautes écoles, the arts colleges, and the institutions of social advancement education. The Agency consists of twenty-four full members and a representative of each minister with responsibility for higher education. Most of its members are drawn from establishments of higher education. They represent the teaching and administrative staff and the students. The trade unions and professional, social and cultural sectors are also represented.

Approaches and methods for quality assurance

The Agency for Quality Evaluation in Higher Education (AEQES) has the following roles :

  • ensuring that the courses organised by the institutions are subject to regular evaluation which highlights good practices, shortcomings and problems to be resolved ;
  • ensuring the implementation of the evaluation procedures ;
  • ensuring cooperation between all areas of higher education so as to encourage the implementation of practices which will improve the quality of the education dispensed at each institution ;
  • informing the government and the actors and beneficiaries of higher education about the quality of the higher education provided in the French Community ;
  • formulating suggestions for the attention of policymakers, with a view to improving the overall quality of higher education ;
  • making any proposal it deems conducive to the performance of its assignments, on its own initiative or at the request of the government ;
  • representing the French Community in dealings with national and international bodies responsible for evaluating the quality of higher education.

On the territory of the French Community, the AEQES develops a formative approach to assessing the quality of higher education programs. It operates in a context in which accreditations are granted ex-ante by the Government (« Accreditation (translation of « habilitation ») : ability granted by decree to a higher education institution to organize a program of study on a specific geographic territory, to confer an academic degree and to deliver the associated certificates and diplomas"). Assessment results that AEQES leads have thus no formal impact in terms of funding or accreditation of institutions. The AEQES makes no notation and no ranking of the institutions.

The AEQES establishes a schedule of assessments on a ten year basis, by providing a mid-term follow-up evaluation (after five years) and ensuring a cluster of assessed courses. An evaluation takes place in three main phases :

  1. Self-assessment conducted by the institution with respect to an evaluation framework ;
  2. External evaluation carried out with respect to the same standards by independent experts, appointed by the AEQES; the results of this evaluation are recorded in reports (transversal and per institution) that are made public ;
  3. Evaluation monitoring conducted by the higher education institution and resulting in particular by producing an action plan that is made public.

The next evaluation (follow-up assessment) comes five years after the initial assessment and aims, on the first hand, at measuring the progress achieved and, on the other hand, at making recommendations to support the development of the quality culture of the institution.