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Language accreditation up in Europe’s HE

Europe’s leading quality monitoring organisation in language education, Eaquals, has seen growing interest from universities keen to accredit courses in foreign languages as they aim to internationalise campuses.

Eaquals members at the association's AGM in Malaga last week where conversations centered on quality in university language centres and e-learning standards.

Universities now make up about a quarter of total enquiries to the organisation

Eaquals executive director, Sarah Aitken, said that universities now make up about a quarter of total enquiries to the organisation which has traditionally served private language education providers.

Currently just three universities are part of Eaquals’ 25 accredited members and 26 associate members.

“When I started two years ago it was there, they would enquire, but we’re now in the serious process,” she told The PIE News at the association’s conference in Malaga last week. “We’ve got people who are having booked advisory visits and we’re in the process of accrediting some.”

“Our members have been doing quality assurance for years, but formal education everywhere, including universities, are now playing catch up”

At the conference, Eaquals also signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with CercleS – the European Federation of Language Centres in Higher Education.

‘Partnerships with like-minded organisations are increasingly important for Eaquals as our international influence grows,” said Aitken. “The link with CercleS is an indication of the growing importance of external quality assurance in university language centres and cements a number of informal links between the higher education sector and Eaquals.”

Most interest is coming from institutions in non-anglophone countries where English courses are becoming more popular. “It’s the internationalisation of higher education,” commented Aitken.

“There’s a huge drive to teach in the medium of English across European universities. Unlike in the UK they usually don’t necessarily have an accreditation scheme that can work with them. We won’t be the only scheme but we do have one that is fit for purpose.”

Founded in 1991, Eaquals- Evaluation and Accreditation of Quality in Language Services- is responsible for the development maintenance of the widely used Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Staying in front of the wave of digitalisation in language teaching, last week it introduced new quality indicators for e-learning into its inspection scheme, taking into account quality in blended learning and flipped classrooms.

Representing members who teach more than 28 languages, Eaquals is also currently rolling out its Core Inventory for French to mirror the widely used Eaquals/British Council Core Inventory for General English – a practical tool to assist teachers using the CEFR in their classroom.

“There’s a real demand on where Eaquals has got the expertise,” remarked Aitkens. “Our members have been doing it [quality assurance] for years, but formal education everywhere, including universities, are now playing catch up.”

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