In others' eyes - External evaluation of the Danish Evaluation Institute
The external evaluation of the Danish Evaluation Institute (EVA) conducted during 2005 was a further stage of the extensive quality assurance work that has been undertaken in the institute since its foundation in 1999. The specifications for the evaluation were laid down in a Remit for the external evaluation of the EVA adopted by its board in February 2005 (annex 1). This remit states that the “EVA Act", the Act on the Danish Evaluation Institute, was to form an important basis for the evaluation. The panel of assessors were to appraise the attainment by the institute of the intentions of the act: whether the work it carried out was relevant in relation to the act, if it maintained adequate standards and if the results of its operations were in accordance with the legislators´ intentions.
Attention was also to be paid to other aims than those laid down in the act, such as the objectives formulated by the EVA in its internal strategic planning and in its quality assurance plans. Furthermore, the evaluation also contained an explicitly international dimension. For some years now, work has been taking place in the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) on the development of joint models and guidelines for quality assurance in higher education. In this connection a system for peer-review assessments/collegial appraisal of the agencies responsible for quality assurance and other institutions in Europe has also been studied. A report entitled Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area presented in February 2005 contained a proposed peer-review model that included cyclical appraisals and the establishment of a register of quality assurance institutions operating in Europe. It was proposed that this register would indicate which institutions had been subjected to peer-review in accordance with ENQA´s guidelines and to what extent these appraisals had shown that their work complied with European standards. One of reasons why the EVA initiated this external evaluation was its desire to qualify the institute for entry in this register.
Criteria and other aspects to which attention is to be paidThe evaluation is to cover the EVA´s operations as a whole and its activities in three core areas: evaluation, its operation as a knowledge centre and its revenue-funded undertakings. The institute´s strategic considerations are to be assessed, as are the procedures and methods chosen. The management and internal organisation of the institute is also to be analysed. The evaluation should also take the external framework and the conditions that apply to the institute into account. A list of criteria has been drawn up in the EVA and approved by its board (annex 2). This specifies five different themes for the external evaluation:
- EVA´s purpose, strategies and framework
- EVA´s organisation and management
- EVA´s knowledge resources
- EVA´s procedures
- EVA´s results
The remit also lays down how the external evaluation is to be conducted. A panel of Nordic assessors consisting of about four members with specified areas of expertise is to be appointed. The basis of the evaluation is to be provided by the self-evaluation report drawn up by the EVA and a three-day site visit by the panel to the EVA. The findings of the evaluation are to be presented in a published report. The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education is responsible for the organisation of the evaluation and for providing the panel of assessors with secretarial assistance.