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Peer Review

03/02/09  (jp)

Background & Needs

In the past years quality assurance and development have evolved into a central objective of vocational education and training (VET) policy in Europe.

Important developments are

  • rising expectations regarding effectiveness and efficiency of VET provision in terms of societal goals like a highly qualified workforce, employability, social cohesion, economic and technological performance and competitiveness;

  • the decentralisation of the VET systems and expanding autonomy of the providers of VET (schools, training centres, enterprises);

  • an increasing need for efficient spending of funds and public accountability.

Traditional input-oriented central quality control through inspection is increasingly recognised as insufficient for ensuring high-quality VET provision and meeting new challenges. Thus, there is a growing interest in comprehensive and state-of-the-art approaches on quality assurance and development. Processes and outcomes of VET provision need to be integrated in the quality assessment and sustained quality quality improvement must be supported.

Peer Review is seen as an innovative and promising instrument of quality assurance and development. External reviews through peers are prevalent today in the higher education sector in Europe. Within the European vocational education and training systems, however, experiences with Peer Reviews are very limited to date.

The promotion of 'the exchange of good practice and the use of voluntary Peer Review at different levels' has been one of the objectives of the mandate given to the 'Technical Working Group (TWG) on quality in VET', a high-level expert group which was set up by the European Commission in the wake of the Copenhagen Declaration in 2003.

The Peer Review projects support European quality policies and the work of the expert group on quality in VET by transferring peer reviews as an instrument of quality assurance and development to the initial vocational education and training sector in Europe.