Accrediting Agencies and their Role in the Danish Education System

The Danish Accreditation System was set up by Danish law as a sovereign institution in 2007. The accreditation institution comprises two bodies – the Accreditation Institution, which works as the accreditation operator and Accreditation Council, which works as the decision-making authority. The Council makes assessment on the accreditation of all higher education programmes in Denmark. The quality and relevance of a study programme in this nation is assessed on the basis of five predefined criteria:
  • Demand for study programmes within the labour market
  • Study programme based on research linked to active, high quality research environment
  • Academic profile of a study programme and key learning outcome targets
  • Structure and organisation of a study programme
  • Consistent and continued internal quality assurance of the study programme
Danish accreditation includes both existing and new study programmes. New study programmes must receive accreditation prior to being set up.

Decisions Related to Danish Accreditation 

Accreditation results in three different decisions. Positive accreditation is for study programmes that can be approved for up to 6 years. Conditional positive accreditation is the study programme given for 1 to 2 years for the rectification of shortcomings. Novel study programmes must receive either approval or refusal. They cannot receive conditional positive accreditation. Refusal is the decision given to indicate that the study programme is closed. The minister must prepare a plan for how students must meet all the demands for their education.

Assessment through the Accreditation Panel

ACE Denmark has put forth an accreditation panel for the academic assessment of any study course or programme. The requirements have been set up governing the members' impartiality. The panel has also got no chairman and all members are accorded equal status. The university allows academic assessment to be commented on prior to any decision making by the Accreditation Council.
This panel includes a student representative, an expert and an employer. The student representative is a student or a graduate from similar study programmes in Denmark. The expert is a person employed at a Swedish or Norwegian university with enough knowledge about the research and subject field behind the study programme. Employers are those with particular interest in the qualifications of the graduate and the requirements of the labour market. 

Danish Accreditation System

According to the Accreditation Act, the Accreditation Council is a certain unit involved in decision making regarding the accreditation of all study programmes pertaining to higher education. Decisions are arrived at on the basis of accreditation reports prepared by operators.

There are currently two accreditation operators in Denmark. They head the accreditation process and prepare key reports that form the basis of Accreditation Council's decisions. For university study programmes, ACE Denmark is responsible for the preparation of accreditation reports. For higher education study programmes (with the exclusion of university programmes), the Danish Evaluation Institute prepares the accreditation reports.

The accreditation system is associated with the Danish Act on the Accreditation Agency for Higher Education.

Quality Assurance in the Danish Higher Education System

Danish higher education programmes for study purposes have been subjected to external quality assurance since the Evaluation Centre came into being in 1992. In the period between 1992 and 1999, the Evaluation Centre has also put together an evaluation of many of the higher education study programmes. For certain universities, no statutory requirements were needed for follow up on these evaluations. Prior to the Evaluation Centre being set up, external examiners were to be present at the exams so that external quality assurance could be followed for higher education study programmes. In 2000, the Evaluation Centre was replaced by EVA. Since the year 2004, EVA has accredited education programmes for a professional bachelor title along with which the EVA has also undertaken the accreditation of institutions for using the University College designation for a period commencing from 2005.

The accreditations were carried out as per the methodology based on the model proposed by the Evaluation Centre. The difference was that a formal quality stamp was needed so that study programmes could be accorded recognition at professional bachelor level. With the 2007 Accreditation Act, accreditation has become the key method for external quality assurance in higher educational institutions at Denmark.

Higher education in Denmark is under state regulation. Ongoing evaluation process is essential to ensure all programmes are of the required international quality and relevance. Higher education in Denmark is under state regulation.  Danish educational institutions have a high degree of autonomy yet they need to follow national regulations for teacher qualifications, and examination processes, and degree structures.  

All Danish students must therefore obtain education of optimal standards and relevance. Many institutions have also attained international accreditation for their programmes. Institutions of higher education in Denmark use the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System for international credit transfer. Certificates or other types of official documentation are provided once the course is completed. Those students who complete a full degree or diploma programme receive a Diploma Supplement in English.
For further information on ECTS and Diploma Supplements, you can visit the website:
www.studyindenmark.dk/faq
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