No quality assurance without independent representation of students

Quality assurance in Higher Education is currently discussed all over Europe. The inclusion of students as equal partners on all levels of quality assurance is one of the main objectives of standards and guidelines of quality assurance in the 45 countries of the Bologna Process.

The students’ representatives that took part in a quality assurance audit of the Polytechnic University of Bucharest faced a grave suppression in their freedom of expression. During the recent audit carried out by the National Quality Assurance Agency of Romania – ARACIS at the Polytechnic University of Bucharest, the evaluation committee organised a meeting with university students, in order to receive their input on the study conditions at the university.

The following day, three of the students were summoned to a meeting with the university rector, Mrs. Ecaterina Andronescu, on Thursday, the 14th of June. In this meeting they were accused of tarnishing the universities image. They were asked for explanations for their „hostile attitude” towards the university. The rector is further known as a prominent member of one of the major Romanian political parties. The students are members of the Students Organization of the Electro-technical Faculty in the University and members of the National Union of Students in Romania (Alianta Nationala a Organizatiilor Studentesti din Romania – ANOSR).

fzs – The national union of students in Germany stresses that the involvement of students is an precedent condition for effective quality assurance. The democratic participation of all stakeholders – including students is not only a European standard for quality in Higher Education but also reflects the role of Higher Education in the society. Thus, threatening the involved students in case of different opinions is an unacceptable behaviour. The action of the rector prevents students from taking part in such audits as active members of the higher education institution. Therefore it harms the democratic participation of students in quality assurance and in the development of Higher Education.

We express our support for our colleagues from Romania and declare our full solidarity with them. We demand the need of the Polytechnic university of Bucharest to inspect the past action. The students need the assurance, that they will not face any further harm due to their involvement in any kind of quality assurance procedures. The national Romanian Quality Assurance Agency needs to ensure that students that take part in their audit do not have to fear any threat due to their statements in the process. Legislation in the country needs to forbid political party influence on the students and all other stakeholders that take part in quality assurance procedures. The inclusion of representatives must be based on a clear representation of interests of independent experts.