In 2012, the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria (AQ Austria) was established as an agency for quality assurance for Austrian higher education institutions on the basis of the Act on Quality Assurance in Higher Education (HS-QSG).
According to AQ Austria's legal remit, AQ Austria is responsible for the entire higher education sector in Austria (with the exception of university colleges of teacher education). In carrying out its responsibilities, AQ Austria follows these basic principles:
- The higher education institutions (HEIs) bear the main responsibility for the quality of their activities and for quality assurance and improvement.
- AQ Austria understands its procedures as supplementary to an HEI's internal quality assurance. It is independent in what it does and not bound by any instructions Decisions in quality assurance procedures are made exclusively in accordance with quality criteria.
- Quality assurance procedures are modelled on international good practice standards, especially the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG).
- Cooperation with HEIs and other interested parties is the basis for the development of procedure rules and standards or criteria.
External Evaluation of AQ Austria
Every five years the agency has to undergo an international evaluation by ENQA to prove that they correctly and professionally apply not only the legally defined provisions, but also the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG). The evaluation serves as a basis for the approval of AQ Austria's full membership of ENQA and for the confirmation of its entry into EQAR. The Board set up a working group to carry out a self-evaluation and prepared the self-evaluation report, which was adopted by the Board in November 2018. End of February AQ Austria will be visited by the international expert panel.