AQ Austria has issued an ordinance, the Accreditation regulation for FH programmes, that specifies binding procedural rules and decision criteria.
The procedural rules are almost identical for institutional as well as programme accreditation and comply with the principles of the ESG (PDF). Thereby, AQ Austria ensures international recognition of the Austrian quality assurance system and encourages international recognition of degree programmes.
As the AQ Austria acts as authority in accreditation procedures, there are furthermore the Austrian administrative procedural rules and regulations to be considered.
The FH (or FH in the course of implementation, respectively) files an application documenting that all criteria are met. After AQ Austria formally verified the filed application and, if necessary, requested modification, an expert panel is appointed to evaluate the institution and/or the degree programme(s). As a rule, the agency conducts an on-site visit for this purpose. During talks with representatives of all areas within the applicant institution, the expert panel members (reviewers) assure themselves of the institution's and its studies' quality and that the prerequisites for accreditation are met.
The reviewers subsequently write a report, which, together with the institution's comment on the review report, is the basis for the Board's decision on accreditation. In its decision, the Board is independent and not bound by any instructions. After the competent minister approved the accreditation decision, AQ Austria subsequently publishes a report on the outcome including the Board's decision as well as the grounds for the decision and the review report. The accreditation procedure in detail (PDF)
Criteria (section 13 et sqq. Accreditation regulation for FH programmes) include the requirements for institutional and programme accreditation (section 8 FHStG, section 23 HS-QSG) and furthermore standards for the assessment of the quality at a HEI and its degree programmes regarding qualification goals, study concepts, personal resourcing, premises and equipment, as well as an HEI's internal quality assurance.
Changes of one of the following items affect the core accreditation requirements of an accredited FH or FH degree programme, respectively, and require the AQ Austria's permission according to section 12 Accreditation regulation for FH programmes:
1. legal entity
2. name of the higher education institution
3. name of degree programmes
4. qualification objective and profile of the degree programmes
5. duration and scope of the degree programmes
6. organisational structure
8. number of available study places
9. wording of the academic degrees to be awarded
10. site/s of the higher education institution
11. site/s of the higher education institution
As changes to the curriculum or organisation of studies (e.g. transition of on-campus to distance study courses) can influence the achievement of the qualification goals, it is recommended to notify AQ Austria in advance in order to clarify relevance to accreditation.