With the procedure of voluntary accreditation of continuing education programmes, AQ Austria offers Austrian HEI the opportunity to voluntarily demonstrate the quality of a continuing education programmes on the basis of an internationally recognized quality assurance procedure and thus promotes the international recognition of the degree. The procedure voluntary accreditation of continuing education programmes serves also and particularly the enhancement dimension of quality assurance by limiting the procedures to those programmes from which at least one cohort has already graduated. This ensures that the experience of the HEI can be used in the evaluation and that recommendations for enhancement can be made on this basis.
AQ Austria offers the procedure exclusively for courses in the field of higher education further education, whose degrees are based on the Dublin descriptors at Bachelor and Master level of the Qualification Framework for the European Higher Education Area. The procedure does not apply to programmes at private universities according to §3 PUG, for which a legal accreditation obligation exists.
The basis for the design of the procedure is the specific academic character of the continuing education programme. In addition, it complies with international good practice, in particular the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG) and takes into account the relevant instruments of the European Higher Education Area, ECTS etc.
The Paris Lodron University Salzburg approached AQ Austria because she was interested in a voluntary accreditation of the two continuing education programmes "Geographical Information Science & Systems" (UNIGIS MSc, 120 ECTS) and (UNIGIS professional, 60 ECTS).
For this purpose, two guidelines have been developed based on the following principles:
- Application of procedural standards in accordance with the "Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG)"
- Greatest possible compliance with the accreditation rules for consecutive Master's degree programs
- adequate criteria for programmes in continuing education
- Applicability to all continuing education programmes
The guidelines were approved by the Board of AQ Austria at its meeting on May 28, 2015:
- Guideline for the Voluntary Accreditation of the University Program Geographical Information Science and Systems (UNIGIS MSc) at the Paris Lodron University Salzburg (PDF) (in German)
- Guideline for Voluntary Accreditation of the University Program "Geographical Information Systems" (UNIGIS professional) at Paris Lodron University Salzburg (PDF) (in German)
At the meeting of 11/12 May 2016, the pilot procedure was successfully completed and the accreditation was issued until 11 May 2021. The result report on the procedure can be found here.