Strategic Planning

The Agency initiated its activities in 2009, a year which was almost fully dedicated to the implementation of structures and procedures, appointment of the different governance bodies and hiring and training staff.

Years 2010 and 2011 were mainly focused on complying with the goals set by the relevant legislation for this period, including the preliminary accreditation of all study programmes in operation when the Agency was created, the prior accreditation of new study programmes and the preparation of the audit process for internal quality assurance systems.

The first regular accreditation cycle began in 2012, consisting of a five-year assessment/ accreditation cycle of all the study programmes in operation that had obtained preliminary accreditation, which was concluded in 2017/18 with the institutional assessment process. In the scope of the institutional assessment, an exercise of reconstruction of the database on higher education was performed, with the aim of promoting a global vision of the system and analysing the improvements achieved in relation to the initial exercise of 2010. During this period, the voluntary process for auditing internal quality assurance systems of institutions was also carried out.

The first regular cycle of accreditations corresponded to the systematic and rigorous accreditation of every study programme in operation, aiming to improve the global quality of higher education institutions and their educational provision. Since this phase of exhaustive analysis is complete, it has been necessary to plan the new assessment cycle. The Agency considers it would not be adequate to maintain exactly the present system, which is expensive and very demanding of human resources, once a culture of exigency has been established in institutions and the minimum quality standards defined by legislation have been assimilated.

Therefore, for the new regular cycle of assessment/accreditation, taking place in 2018-2023, the Agency has designed a lighter-touch approach, based on the principles of risk management and of institutional responsibility for the quality of its educational programmes. Lighter-touch procedures are based on a sampling system of study programme accreditation, combined with institutional audits. Lighter-touch procedures will only be adopted for those institutions with above-average quality indicators, namely regarding the qualification of the teaching staff, the quality of research, their performance in the first assessment/accreditation cycle and also whether they have obtained certification for their internal quality assurance systems. This simplification of the system also implies a revision and simplification of all the guidelines for programme assessment.

The second regular cycle will be concluded in 2022/2023 with a new exercise of institutional assessment and the corresponding new reconstruction of the database.

The Agency will continue to undertake research related to its area of activity and will stay in touch with new international quality developments, namely those related to risk management policies and the "quality enhancement" approach.
The thematic analysis (synthesis-reports) will continue to be published, with the necessary updates, whenever the assessment of a given scientific area is completed. The Agency will also carry on with the production of periodic analyses of the Portuguese higher education network, its institutions and their educational provision.

The internationalisation component will be given special attention. Over this period, the Agency will promote the discussion of themes related to quality, namely by organising a biennial international conference and establishing a network of bilateral partnerships with similar agencies.

The framework law for quality assurance in higher education establishes the periodical international assessment of the Agency (article 25 a). In accordance with the Statutes of ENQA, the frequency of the external reviews will be every five years. The Agency was reviewed by a panel of international experts coordinated by ENQA in 2014, so the next review is planned for 2019. The positive results of the review allowed the Agency to become a full member of ENQA and to be registered with EQAR.

Last update: June, 2018.