In May 2000, the Bavarian Rectors’ Conference passed a resolution to establish an accreditation agency, which 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 for the first time.
ACQUIN as a membership institution
ACQUIN operates as a non-profit organisation which is financed through membership fees as well as through Higher Education Institutions for accreditation services provided. Currently more than 160 higher education institutions from Germany, Austria, Bulgaria and the Lebanon are members of ACQUIN (list of members). The membership is open for all kind of HEIs and can be applied with the ACQUIN membership form.
Mission Statement of ACQUIN
The objective of (ACQUIN) is to contribute to the shaping of the European Higher Education Area and to ensure the comparability of the quality of university degrees. The core task of ACQUIN is to promote the quality of higher education programmes and to support the establishment of a culture of quality at higher education institutions. ACQUIN carries out accreditations of Bachelor and Master programmes of all disciplines on a national level and across all types of higher education institutions in order to ensure the high quality of study programmes, create market transparency, enhance the attractiveness of higher education to students and promote comparability of academic qualifications. In this sense, the accreditation of entire universities, their quality management systems in teaching and learning, as well as other performance areas contribute to the further promotion of the academic quality and to the support of the higher education development. ACQUIN sees itself as a partner of higher education institutions abroad that want to offer Bachelor, Master and PhD programmes at European level.
The implementation of all quality assurance procedures in Germany and abroad is based on the international standards of good practice, especially on the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG). As a self-governing higher education organisation, ACQUIN is free from government interference and is independent in the spirit of academic standards and traditions. Academic freedom and autonomy of higher education institutions are guiding principles of all decision-making processes. The universities affiliated with ACQUIN cultivate a consistent exchange with the professional practice and the representatives of the student body.
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.