In May 2000, the Bavarian Rectors’ Conference passed a resolution to establish an accreditation agency that performs accreditation for all types of higher education institutions taking into account all types of programmes and disciplines. The Accreditation, Certification and Quality assurance Institute ACQUIN was founded on January 26, 2001 and accredited by the German Accreditation Council on March 22, 2001. Nowadays ACQUIN is an association of over 100 higher education institutions from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary and the United States of America (list of members). The German Accreditation Council reaccredited ACQUIN in 2006 until 30th of September 2011.
ACQUIN’s aim is to support the maintenance and enhancement of quality standards for teaching and learning in higher education and to contribute to the internationalisation of German higher education by performing accreditation for all types of higher education institutions and taking into account all types of programmes and disciplines. A main objective is to provide guidance and information for students, employers and higher education institutions and to contribute to more transparency in the market of study programmes. Within the accreditation process, the institutional membership of the applicant does not have any decisive influence, neither on the content of the evaluation procedure nor on the accreditation decision-making process.
The main characteristics of ACQUIN are independence, objectivity and high quality. Academic freedom and academic autonomy are respected: higher education institutions may regulate their own quality and standards, but at the same time they must guarantee transparency of process and public accountability in discharging this self-regulation.
The broad basis of the organisation prevents ACQUIN from having a restricted perspective, while the composition of the committees enables it to carry out objective procedures with objective results of high acceptance. Degree programmes are evaluated by reason of their characteristic purpose as well as on the basis of the quality criteria developed and applied by the agency, regardless of their institutional membership. The make-up of the decision-making bodies does not allow biased persons to intervene in the current procedure. Not only professors and higher education experts, but also students and independent representatives of professional practice participate actively in the accreditation procedures, while members of the state can observe the activities of the agency.
ACQUIN serves quality assurance in an open education market by evaluating study programmes on the basis of the degree programme profile and performance defined and proposed by the applicant higher education institution itself and by developing quality standards and evaluation criteria.
ACQUIN operates as a non-profit organisation which is financed through membership fees as well as through Higher Education Institutions for accreditation services provided.