The German Accreditation Council has the legal form of a foundation of public law. It was originally set up by the North Rhine-Westphalian Law establishing a foundation “Foundation for the Accreditation of Study Programmes in Germany” of 15 February 2005. With the Interstate Study Accreditation Treaty, which came into force on 1 January 2018, the name of the foundation was changed to “Foundation Accreditation Council”. In international contexts, the foundation is referred to as the German Accreditation Council.
The tasks of the foundation are laid down in the Interstate Treaty on the organization of a joint accreditation system to ensure the quality of teaching and learning at German higher education institutions (Interstate study accreditation treaty), which was agreed upon by the 16 states in 2017. As a major innovation, the Accreditation Council, as the central decision-making body of the foundation, was given the task of deciding on the accreditation of study programmes (programme accreditation) and the accreditation of quality management systems (system accreditation) on the basis of experts’ reports. The implementation of so-called alternative procedures with which new ways in quality development are tested also requires the approval of the Accreditation Council.
While the responsibility for accreditation decisions has now been transferred to the Accreditation Council, the assessment procedures in programme and system accreditation remain in the hands of the accreditation agencies authorised for this purpose by the Accreditation Council. The authorisation of an agency is subject to its EQAR registration.
The Accreditation Council assumes its overall responsibility for the accreditation system by ensuring the consistency and coherence of its accreditation decisions, supporting the states in the further development of the German quality management system, promoting international cooperation in the field of accreditation and quality assurance and thus contributing to the realisation of a common European Higher Education Area.