http://www.ehea.info/Uploads/images/ENQA.pngThis report is based on the ENQA workshop on the theme “Quality Assurance in Lifelong Learning” that was held from the 16-17th of May 2011 in Bonn, Germany. The workshop provided a platform for discussion and exchange of experiences among the main stakeholders in quality assurance. The workshop aimed to contribute to joint understanding of the quality assurance in lifelong learning (LLL) between stakeholders, to disseminate information on good practice of external quality assirance in LLL, and to discuss standards and procedures for external quality ssurance in LLL. Download the Report.
See also ENQA workshop on Quality Assurance and Lifelong Learning, Quality Assurance and Learning Outcomes, L’AERES, évaluée et reconnue par l’ENQA, 6th European Quality Assurance Forum.

Quality Assurance in Lifelong Learning

Endika Bengoetxea, Outi Kallioinen, Immo Schmidt-Jortzig, Richard Thorn.
Foreword

The implementation of Lifelong Learning (LLL) in European higher education institutions is one of the most important educational and carrier development oriented initiatives of this decade. Albeit an essential path in the continuous improvement of skills, competences and knowledge throughout the life of an individual, this project is also challenging, as it involves expectations not only from the educational, the social and the professional worlds, but employers and employees as well. Moreover, the fact that expectations and demands may vary nationally, regionally and locally demands understanding, transparency and coordination between lifelong learning providers. The quality assurance of implementing Lifelong Learning into European higher education institutions is currently part of ENQA’s main focus areas. ENQA is promoting debates on how to develop quality assurance processes for lifelong learning schemes. In order to contribute to joint understanding of the quality assurance in Lifelong Learning between all stakeholders, to disseminate information on good practice, and to discuss standards and procedures, ENQA organised a workshop on the theme “Quality Assurance in Lifelong Learning” that was held in May 2011 in Bonn, Germany. The workshop provided a platform for discussion and exchange of experiences among the main stakeholders in quality assurance.
This publication presents four articles based on the workshop on Lifelong Learning. The following articles will discuss the national experiences, observations and results from the perspectives of the European Commission, the Laurea University of Applied Sciences in Finland, the Foundation for International Business Administration Accreditation (FIBAA) in Germany, and the Institutes of Technology in Ireland. Achim Hopbach, President, European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA)
CHAPTER 1: Quality Assurance in Higher Education Lifelong Learning: Objectives and challenges on the European Union, Endika Bengoetxea, European Commission, Belgium
1.1 Introduction

The European Union’s Europe 2020 strategy sets out a vision of Europe’s social market economy for the 21st century, with a strong focus on skills and lifelong learning. It shows how the EU can come out stronger from the crisis and how it can be turned into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy delivering high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. It includes a European benchmark for raising the proportion of higher education graduates (in the age range 30–34 years) to 40% by 2020.
The strategic framework for co-operation in Education and Training for 2020 –ET20202– focuses on four key areas:
1. Making lifelong learning and mobility a reality (including a European benchmark that by 2020 at least 15% of adults (age group 25–64) should participate in lifelong learning);
2. Improving the quality and efficiency of education and training;
3. Promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship;
4. Enhancing creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship.
Given the need for Europe to raise skill levels and provide high quality education and training, it is no coincidence that lifelong learning and quality assurance figure as two of these priorities. The European Commission is cooperating actively with member states and stakeholders on reforms and follow-up.
Since the Bologna process started in 1999, there has been considerable improvement in building a higher education quality assurance culture in Europe, although efforts are still required to improve cooperation at European level. At the same time, quality assurance and transparency tools may need to evolve in order to remain up to date, as for instance, the European Standards and Guidelines which are at present under review.
While much of the focus of quality assurance is on initial training courses and degrees, developing quality assurance mechanisms for continuous training is also essential. More than ever, education systems are required to offer training courses and modules that ensure the right mix of skills, and lifelong learning activities must ensure that people improve knowledge, skills and competences within a personal, civic, social and/or employment-related perspective. As part of this strategy, higher education quality assurance systems must also play their role in guaranteeing that quality assurance mechanisms are established for continuous training courses.
The need to develop flexible study paths is also a priority: the percentage of ‘nontraditional’ groups (such as part-time students) seeking training is increasing, but there are not yet sufficient initiatives to satisfy this demand. Furthermore, these mature learners express a particular concern about the quality of the educational offer, which calls for a more direct involvement of quality assurance systems in lifelong learning. Download the Report.