Universities in border regions have a long experience in the field of international education. Thus, universities in border regions like the Greater Region have the unique opportunity to develop a common higher education area that might serve as a model for a further harmonization of the national university systems. The project tackles specific challenges of international degree programmes in border regions.
The issue of quality assurance in cross-border education has attracted much attention by international institutions and initiatives. The UNESCO, the Council of Europe, the OECD as well as the International Associations of Universities have published policy statements or recommendations related to this topic. In the context of the Bologna reforms, there are a number of European initiatives promoting transnational quality standards and the development of double or joint degrees. In particular the activities of the Joint Quality Initiative and of European associations for quality assurance and accreditation (EUA, ECA, ENQA, and INQAAHE) contributed significantly to a common understanding of quality in higher education.
However, complementing these activities of external institutions, there is a need to support the quality assurance systems within the universities. The Berlin communiqué emphasizes that the primary responsibility for quality assurance in higher education lies with each institution itself. This internal quality culture does not replace external quality assurance systems like accreditations but provides the necessary basis for effective degree programmes. There is still the question how to deal with quality assurance in case of joint programmes, if various national regulations have to be complied with.
The project is not confined to the mere exchange of innovative ideas or best practice, but aims at establishing a common quality assurance infrastructure in the region that might serve as a model for further cooperation across borders. Strengthening the universities’ quality culture is a necessary accompanying measure for cooperation in the field of higher education. Thus, the project helps to improve the implementation of SOCRATES and disseminates the results and methods of the cross-border cooperation within the Greater Region.