Institutional Evaluation Programme: an opportunity to exchange views and share experiences

Sokratis Katsikas from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology shares his experience of being a member for over 15 years. 

EUA’s Institutional Evaluation Programme (IEP) is recruiting current or former rectors and vice-rectors as members to its pool of experts. IEP is an independent European-level quality assurance agency offering higher education institutions the opportunity to take part in a comprehensive, improvement-oriented institutional evaluation conducted by a team of experienced higher education leaders. Since its establishment in 1994, IEP has carried out over 440 institutional evaluations in Europe and worldwide and has completed coordinated evaluations (at the national or regional level) in numerous European countries, and beyond Europe as well.

The IEP pool of experts consists of rectors and vice-rectors (current or former), student members and senior higher education professionals acting as team coordinators. IEP ensures appropriate balance in the pool (and in each evaluation team) in terms of experience of pool members, country of origin, discipline and gender. Thus, membership in the IEP pool of experts is an opportunity to team up with peers, experts in higher education strategic management and quality assurance from all over Europe. Currently the pool comprises members from 22 countries. 

Each member of the IEP evaluation teams comes from a different country, and different from the country of the institution being evaluated. This is an excellent opportunity to learn by seeing how multinational and multicultural teams can work effectively and efficiently. It also means that every team member becomes familiar with the higher education system in the country of the institution they evaluate. Thus, after a few evaluations, particularly within the context of a coordinated evaluation, each member has a very good perspective of several higher education systems across Europe, their similarities, their differences and their peculiarities. This knowledge is valuable to addressing strategic challenges in one’s own higher education system and institution.       

IEP pool members take part in a two-day Annual Seminar, where they are provided with training on conducting evaluations using the IEP methodology and updates on current higher education trends and developments in quality assurance. This event allows us to keep abreast of developments and trends in European higher education, to enhance our skills on applying the IEP methodology, and to exchange views and share experiences with peers around Europe.

All of the experts have some experience with academic evaluations, as they have led or are leading institutions whose quality assurance systems, possibly including strategic aspects, have been evaluated in a national or international context. Having the opportunity to be in the evaluator’s role gives an additional perspective to the whole process, which allows for a better understanding of the most salient elements of an institution when looked upon from an independent, critical, but friendly observer’s position.

Despite the differences in higher education systems, culture, structure and tradition, there are a number of issues related to strategic management, capacity to change and quality assurance that all higher education institutions face. Through their participation in IEP evaluations, IEP experts have the opportunity to learn different approaches in addressing such issues. Experience has shown that some of these have been excellent examples of good practices and have decisively helped IEP experts in enhancing quality and strategic management in their own institution.

In view of the above, I firmly believe that my participation in the IEP pool of experts has considerably contributed to my professional development. Being a member of the leadership team in the institutions where I have had the privilege of being employed, I feel that this has translated into some benefit for the institutions themselves.

Having been a member of the pool of IEP experts for over fifteen years now, and having taken part in more than 25 evaluations, what I have valued most is the sense of being useful to the community, and a feeling of belonging in a group of peers with whom I share the same values, the same principles, and the desire to contribute to improving the quality of European higher education. I am really looking forward to meeting and welcoming new colleagues in our next IEP annual event.

Sokratis Katsikas is Professor at the Department of Information Security and Communication Technology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. He has also served as Rector of the University of the Aegean in Greece, as well as at the Open University of Cyprus. He is the former Chair of the IEP Steering Committee.

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‘Membership in the IEP pool of experts is an opportunity to team up with peers, experts in higher education strategic management and quality assurance from all over Europe.’

Sokratis Katsikas, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, former Chair of the IEP Steering Committee.