Accreditation foremost is an ongoing process for understanding and improving learning. It requires clearly defined objectives and intended results at the programme and course level, systematic gathering and analysis of evidence to verify that performance meets the objectives set by the institution, and the use of that information to make timely improvements.
The process of self-evaluation (important element of the accreditation process) can be an element in the quality control process of a programme.
Presenting the programme and its objectives to peers from abroad is a very good learning experience.
Accreditation on a European level is an acknowledgement of quality which can be of worth within the home university as well as in relation to other national institutions.
EGPA always have been stimulating programmes to assure their quality through accreditation, and supported EAPAA, the organisation that organises the accreditation of public administration programmes in Europe. In 2010 EGPA and NISPAcee became the two corporate members of EAPAA.
Peer Group Evaluation
Evaluation by public administration peers
Accreditation must be discipline-oriented, i.e. carried out by competent members of the discipline: this reduces a known tendency to excessively ‘procedure-oriented’ systems of evaluation. It is our conviction that peer group evaluation is an academic as well as an professional necessity.
Clear perspective on public administration
Accreditation by EAPAA is based on a clear view of the essential elements of a public administration programme (laid down in the ‘standards’). Public Administration is seen as an interdisciplinary study of governance and all the aspects of management and policy that come with it; this is meant to include the social and economic environments that affect it and are affected by it. It also embraces the understanding of democratic values.
No Pressure to Conformity
Although there is an identified set of ‘core elements’ of a public administration programme, EAPAA accreditation takes into account the specific missions programmes want to achieve. Each Public Administration programme is evaluated foremost against its own objectives.
Substantial (not total) conformity to standards
Based on a view of the discipline of public administration and on widely agreed features of a ‘good’ study programme, a set of standards has been developed. But this set of standards is not absolute; deviation from these standards can be motivated, for example, with reference to the mission.
National institutional constraints
The clause on substantial conformity to standards recognises the importance differences in national institutional constraints for public administration programmes. These differences are fully taken into account.
Adaptation to national procedures and guidelines
In some countries there are national accreditation and/or quality assurance regulations; they may contain guidelines for the presentation of material which are different from those of EAPAA. In order to increase efficiency, institutions may present material regarding their programme in a different way than is set out in the in the guidelines of EAPAA as long as they signpost the information EAPAA required. Information not contained in the national documentation, must, of course, be added.
Self-evaluation in English, French or German
The self-evaluation, considered as most important element of the accreditation process, may be submitted in English, French or German. If the self-evaluation is submitted in another language, the institution will be required to provide a translation in English, French or German of the main text of the self-evaluation.
Site visit and language
The Accreditation Committee will endeavour to have at least one member of the site visit team who has oral and written competence in the language of the programme.
In order to reduce the bureaucratic burden of accreditations, EAPAA is a promoter of joint/dual accreditations with national accreditation authorities. Through a common self-evaluation report and a joint site visit team, both the national authority and EAPAA can reach a decision on accreditation independently of each other. EAPAA has experience with this in several countries.
All information on EAPAA and its accreditation criteria and procedures, can be found on the EAPAA website.