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ESU targets lack of student involvement with quality assurance project ‘QUEST’

BRUSSELS – At the moment, there are several policy instruments in place that support improvements of the quality of higher education on an ongoing basis. However, according to the European Students Union, there is still a clear lack of true student involvement in this area. The recently started ESU project dubbed ‘QUEST’ intends to change this.

Allan Päll, vice-chairperson of the European Students Union says: “The lack of involvement can clearly be seen from research dominated rankings that are commonly used as a byword for quality in the media, or from the fact that most students have no clue about quality assurance and often do not know that the endless feedback surveys they fill in have any tangible impact to teaching and learning processes in the institutions.”

According to Päll, European students are rarely asked what their view on quality is when it comes to reform of higher education. ESU intends to change this by starting up a new project, called ‘Quest for Quality for Students (QUEST)’ that seeks to identify a true European viewpoint on quality and provide tools for student organizations to put themselves into the centre of the quality debate.

Toolkit for students

The project will create a quality concept publication that will be drafted on the basis of research carried out by ESU as well as a pan-European student survey on what is regarded as important by students in teaching and learning. Part of the QUEST project is also to develop of a toolkit for the use of student organisations that will help them to lead quality discussions and engage students, leading to a more student-centered learning environment and finally there will be a conference on the outcomes of the project in the autumn of 2012.
The project outcomes are complemented by activities such as site visits to institutions and national student unions to identify good practice in student engagement. Furthermore, three workshops for students and stakeholders involved in quality processes will be organised to link the research outcomes to the development of practical tools.

The project is running from 2010 to end of 2012 and is financed by the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme. The project is run in partnership with the Romanian Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ARACIS), Student Participation in Quality Scotland (sparqs) which is a national development agency that assists universities, colleges and students’ association to define, share, improve and create practises and cultures related to enhancing quality, and the member union of ESU from Germany, The Free Association of Local Student Union Bodies (fzs).Published 27 January

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