The main purpose of the Foundation for the Accreditation of Study Programmes in Germany is to contribute to the development in the quality of teaching and learning in Germany and, with this in mind, to contribute in the realisation of the European Higher Education Area. The Foundation's wide spectrum of tasks, objectives and its understanding of quality are reflected in its → Mission Statement.
Contributing to the development in the quality of teaching and learning the Foundation, on behalf of the German Federal States, takes care that the agencies certified to carry out accreditations of study programmes and internal quality assurance systems of higher education institutions do this to the highest degree of quality, comparability and transparency. The Foundation is therefore responsible to regulate the requirements for accreditation procedures.
Those → regulations on accreditation essentially refer to the following subject areas:
The main rules for accreditation procedures are subsumed in the Rules for the accreditation of study programmes and for system accreditiation and the Rules for the accreditation of agencies.
Before any agency is given the authority to award the quality seal of the Foundation to successfuly accredited study programmes, it must itself undergo an accreditation process. On application from the agency, the accreditation process is carried out by the Accreditation Council which, as the central decision-making body of the Foundation, decides on the accreditation or reaccreditation of agencies.
The → accreditiation of agencies is carried out on the basis of the Rules for the accreditation of agencies, which also comprise the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG). According to the assessment criteria agencies are required, for example, to furnish proof of the legitimacy and function of its institutions, to formulate their understanding of quality based on an evaluation of learning outcomes, to explain their personnel structure and other resources or to prove the managerial independence of the agency and its decsion-making bodies. Furthermore, the agencies commit themselves to the deployment of the Criteria for the Accreditation of Study Programmes not just during the accreditation process but also on a contractual basis.
Furthermore, the agencies commit themselves to the deployment of the Rules for the accreditation of study programmes and for system accreditation not just during the accreditation process but also on a contractual basis.
With regard to the realisation of the European Higher Education Area the Foundation has the task to support the mutual recognition of qualifications and improve the transparancy of study programmes in order to foster the transnational mobility of students.
The Foundation works towards a reciprocal understanding of the systems of quality assurance and the development of comparable criteria, methods and standards of quality assurance. In this context, the European and international → quality assurance networks, of which the Foundation is an active member, represent an important instrument for promoting international cooperation. The comprehensive consideration of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG) in the rules for accreditation is of equal importance.
The Accreditation Council lays down the requirements for the recognition of accreditations by foreign establishments.
Currently, the recognition of accreditation decisions by agencies not certified by the Accreditation Council is limited to decisions for the accreditation of joint programmes, accreditation of which is normally carried out jointly by more than only one agency. As part of the Rules for the accreditation of study programmes and for system accreditation, the Accreditation Council has developed special rules for this type of accreditation that do justice to the particularities of the procedure and define the requirements based on which an accreditation decision can be recognised.
For the purpose of constant quality improvement and quality control the Accreditation Council regularly performs random sample assessments of accreditations undertaken by the agencies. The assessments' sequence and their consequences are specified by the Accreditation Council in a transparent and comprehensible procedure.
Those assessments may also take place for specific purpose, if there are concrete indications of defects in the performance or the decision of a programme- or system accreditation procedure. The Accreditation Council might get respective indications from third parties as well, for example, if an appeal of a higher education institution against an agency was dismissed.
According to the German accreditation system higher education institutions may opt for one out of currently ten competing agencies undertaking accreditations of study programs or internal quality assurance systems. In order to prevent the risk of monopolization or restriction of the free selection of agencies by the higher education institutions and in order to warrant (market-) transparency, above all with regard to the description of services and the price formation, it is the Foundation's task to ensure fair competition among the agencies.
The tasks of the Foundation include to regularly report on the results of accreditations and about developments regarding accreditation in a national and international context.
For this purpose the Accreditation Council publishes → data and statistics on study programmes accredited, annually submits a → report on its activities and releases a → newsletter that informs on developments in German and international quality assurance at regular intervals. On selected topics the Accreditation Council produces → further reports and regularly takes a stand on.
The tasks that have been taken on by the Foundation on behalf of the Federal States of Germany are set out in the Law establishing a "Foundation for the Accreditation of Study Programmes in Germany" from 15th February 2005 as amended on 1st April 2008.