Quality manifesto

This section provides a summary of the ECTE’s commitment to external and internal quality standards as outlined in the European Standards and Guidelines Part 1, 2 and 3[1].  Areas of compliance are noted together with areas where further development is undergoing[2].

ECTE and Internal quality assurance (ESG 1)

The ECTE is committed to the European Standards and Guidelines Part 1 as it ensures the internal quality of its accredited institutions in the following areas[3].   The following are example of evidence of this commitment.

ESG 1.1 – Policy for quality assurance. The ECTE requires institutions to have a policy for quality assurance that is made public and forms part of their strategic management. Internal stakeholders should develop and implement this policy through appropriate structures and processes, while involving external stakeholders. This can be seen in Standards and Guidelines for ECTE Accreditation, section A.2.

ESG 1.2 – Design and approval of programmes. The ECTE requires institutions to have processes for the design and approval of their programmes. The programmes should be designed so that they meet the objectives set for them, including the intended learning outcomes. The qualification resulting from a programme should be clearly specified and communicated and refer to the correct level of the national qualifications framework for higher education and, consequently, to the Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area. This can be seen in Standards and Guidelines for ECTE Accreditation, sections B.2 and B.5.

ESG 1.3 – Student-centred learning. The ECTE requires institutions to ensure that the programmes are delivered in a way that encourages students to take an active role in creating the learning process, and that the assessment of students reflects this approach. This can be seen in Standards and Guidelines for ECTE Accreditation, section B.3.

ESG 1.4 – Student admission, progression, recognition and certification. The ECTE requires institutions to consistently apply pre-defined and published regulations covering all phases of the student “life cycle”, e.g. student admission, progression, recognition and certification. This can be seen in Standards and Guidelines for ECTE Accreditation, section B.4.

ESG 1.5 – Teaching staff. The ECTE requires institutions to assure themselves of the competence of their teachers. They should apply fair and transparent processes for the recruitment and development of the staff. This can be seen in Standards and Guidelines for ECTE Accreditation, section A.3.

ESG 1.6 – Learning resources and student support. The ECTE requires institutions to have appropriate funding for learning and teaching activities and ensure that adequate and readily accessible learning resources and student support are provided. This can be seen in Standards and Guidelines for ECTE Accreditation, sections A.5, A.6.

ESG 1.7 – Information management. The ECTE requires institutions to ensure that they collect, analyse and use relevant information for the effective management of their programmes and other activities. This can be seen in Standards and Guidelines for ECTE Accreditation, section A.5.

ESG 1.8 – Public information. The ECTE requires institutions to publish information about their activities, including programmes, which is clear, accurate, objective, up-to date and readily accessible. This can be seen in Standards and Guidelines for ECTE Accreditation, section A.1.

ESG 1.9 – On-going monitoring and periodic review of programmes. The ECTE requires institutions to monitor and periodically review their programmes to ensure that they achieve the objectives set for them and respond to the needs of students and society. These reviews should lead to continuous improvement of the programme. Any action planned or taken as a result should be communicated to all those concerned. This can be seen in Standards and Guidelines for ECTE Accreditation, section B.2.

ESG 1.10 – Cyclical external quality assurance. The ECTE requires institutions to undergo external quality assurance in line with the ESG on a cyclical basis. This can be seen in Standards and Guidelines for ECTE Accreditation, section A.2.

ECTE and external quality assurance (ESG 2)

The ECTE is committed to the European Standards and Guidelines Part 2 in as it carries out its own external quality assurance procedures.  The following are example of evidence of this commitment

ESG 2.1 – Consideration of internal quality assurance. The ECTE accreditation standards and processes address the effectiveness the internal quality assurance processes of institutions as they relate to two bodies of standards: ESG 1 and the ICETE SG-GETE. This can be seen in the document Standards and Guidelines for ECTE Accreditation.

ESG 2.2 – Designing methodologies fit for purpose. The ECTE standards and procedures are designed and defined as fitting the purposes of European theological education and operating within the relevant regulations and frameworks that pertain to cross-border professional accreditation in the European Higher Education Area. ECTE’s internal stakeholders, identified as ECTE’s member institutions within a peer-accreditation scheme, are involved in the design and improvement of the ECTE’s standards[4].  Further development is envisaged in greater involvement of external stakeholders.

ESG 2.3 – Implementing processes. The ECTE applies processes that are reliable, useful, pre-defined, implemented consistently and published.  The ECTE’s accreditation procedures include self- assessment, site visits, production of reports from external assessment and consistent follow up with recommendations and requirements[5]. We collect evaluation of utility of process after cycle is complete. Further development is envisaged in improving final reports and in additional distinguishing of the roles of external experts from the deciding body.

ESG 2.4 – Peer-review experts. The ECTE avails itself of external peer experts to carry out reviews that include academics, stakeholders and students. ECTE VETs are selected, subject to ongoing training and cleared for conflict-of-interest.  Further development is envisaged in VET recruiting policy and criteria, VET training, broadening of VET expertise and in distinguishing of the roles of external experts from the deciding body.

ESG 2.5 – Criteria for outcomes. The ECTE makes accreditation judgments on the basis of explicit, published and consistent criteria as found in the Standards and Guidelines for ECTE Accreditation.  ECTE accreditation applies these criteria consistently on the basis of both documentary and visitation evidence and makes a distinction between requirements and recommendations. Further development is envisaged in training external experts to ensure the consistency of interpretation of ECTE criteria.

ESG 2.6 – Reporting. The ECTE has an approved policy to publish reports by its external experts as well as decisions based on these reports.  Further development is envisaged in the production of full reports, in their publication and in the publication of related formal decisions.

ESG 2.7 – Complaints and appeals. The ECTE has a published complaints and appeals process and a VET evaluation procedure that is regularly employed. Further development is envisaged in distinguishing appeals and complaints.

ECTE as a quality assurance Agency (ESG 3)

The ECTE is committed to the European Standards and Guidelines Part 3 in relation to its own internal quality procedures. The following are example of evidence of this commitment.

ESG 3.1 – Activities, policy and processes for quality assurance. The ECTE undertakes QA activities on a regular basis in coherence with explicit goals and objectives that are made public and that translate into its daily work[6].  Stakeholders are involved in the governance of the ECTE through the General Assembly[7].  Clear distinctions are made between ECTE activities of accreditation and activities of consultation, evaluation and networking. Further development is envisaged in clarifying conflict of interest policies related to activities of training and consultancy.

ESG 3.2 – Official status. The ECTE has official status under German law as a non-profit agency whose purposes include the ‘promotion and securing of quality of theological training of the member institutes based on uniform standards’[8].  Although registered in Germany, the ECTE is an international agency that is involved in professional cross-border accreditation. The ECTE does not carry out QA for regulatory purposes nor does it perform accreditation activities for authorisation.   Further development is envisaged in clarifying ECTE’s official status within the changing European scenario of cross-border accreditation.

ESG 3.3 – Independence. The ECTE operates independently in full autonomy and responsibility for its operations and outcomes without third party influence.  Although formally governed through a General Assembly of member schools as a peer-accreditation agency, the nomination of external experts, the production of reports and all accreditation decisions are performed independently by the ECTE Council with no influence or interference from the General Assembly. Further development is envisaged in making the responsibility for accreditation decisions and issues of independence more explicit in the ECTE statutes and in creating VET contracts that contain clauses related to independence.

ESG 3.4 – Thematic analysis. The ECTE is committed to the importance of thematic analysis and reports on general findings of its external QA activities and further development is envisaged in this area.

ESG 3.5 – Resources. The ECTE ensures adequate and appropriate resources, both human and financial, through a fee structure that supports its staff and operations. A substantial part of the work of the ECTE is supported by volunteer work, both in the Council and in the external experts.  This model has proven feasible over time.  Further development is envisaged in expanding the financial basis and human resources.

ESG 3.6 – Internal quality assurance and professional conduct. The ECTE has internal QA processes that define, assure and enhance the quality of its operations. This are published in a variety of documents [9]and regularly implemented.  Further development is envisaged in the production of a policy document that includes: definitions of persons and activities as competent, ethical and professional; internal and external feedback mechanisms; intolerance prevention; communication policies; and issues of subcontracting. Further development is also envisaged in developing and implementing internal quality assurance and improvement processes.

ESG 3.7 – Cyclical external review of agencies. The ECTE is committed to the importance of undergoing regular external reviews to demonstrate compliance to quality assurance standards as a quality assurance agency and further investigation into appropriate opportunities of eternal review is undergoing in this area.