The Agency has initiated its activities in 2009, this year being almost fully dedicated to the implementation of structures and procedures, appointment of its different governance bodies and hiring and training staff.
Years 2010 and 2011 were focused mainly in complying with the goals set by the relevant legislation for this period, including the preliminary accreditation of all study cycles in operation when the Agency was created, the previous accreditation of new study cycles and the preparation of the audit process for the internal quality assurance systems.
From 2012 the first regular five years cycle of accreditation of study cycles will be initiated, being followed by an updating of the Agency’s database in the sixth year. Along this same period the audits of the institutional internal quality assurance systems will also take place. Therefore, the Agency aims to perform a systematic and strict accreditation of every study cycle in operation, aiming at improving the system’s global quality and its educational offer. At the same time the Agency promotes the implementation and certification of the institutional internal quality assurance systems aiming at a new phase of the quality system grounded on the principle that the main responsibility for the quality of education lies first of all with every institution.
The updating exercise of the database to be performed over the sixth year of this period aims at providing a global view of the system, analysing the improvements relative to the 2010 initial exercise and defining a new strategy for the next period. Once completed this phase of exhaustive analysis a new phase needs to be constructed, based on the internal quality assurance systems while offering a more light touch approach for individual accreditation of study cycles. Therefore the Agency considers it is not adequate to maintain a system that is expensive and very demanding of human resources, once a culture of exigency is established in institutions and the minimum quality standards defined by legislation are internalised.
For the new period the Agency proposes to develop an institutional evaluation system. More light touch procedures will be adopted for those institutions with better quality indicators, namely regarding the qualification of the academic staff and the quality of research, when they also have certified internal quality assurance systems. The light touch procedures will be in principle based on a sampling system of study programme accreditation combined with institutional audits to be developed between 2012 and 2016.
Over the 2012-2016 period the Agency will continue to develop research related to its area of activity and will follow new quality developments, namely those related to the OECD’s AHELO project, the U-MAP and U-MultiRank projects, risk management policies and the “quality enhancement” approach. The Agency will also produce periodic analyses of the Portuguese higher education network.
The internationalisation component will be given special attention with the international evaluation of the Agency and its application to become registered in EQAR. Over this period the Agency will promote the discussion of themes related to quality, namely by organising international conferences and establishing a network of bilateral partnerships with similar agencies.