The Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council (FINHEEC) is tasked with engaging in international cooperation in higher education evaluation. FINHEEC is an active contributor to European evaluation policy debate and closely monitors general European higher education policy and the creation of the European Higher Education Area. FINHEEC collaborates with other national evaluation organisations, participates in the activities of several international forums and is involved in international evaluation projects.
FINHEEC is a member in the international networks of the following evaluation organisations, among others:
NOQA (Nordic Quality Assurance Network in Higher Education)
ENQA (European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education)
INQAAHE (International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education)
FINHEEC is also engaged in bilateral cooperation, which has increased markedly. The inclusion of international auditors in external evaluation teams for higher education has boosted international cooperation in the field of evaluation as well as the sharing of evaluation practices and knowledge on evaluation.
The Nordic countries have engaged in systematic collaboration since the early 1990s to ensure quality assurance in higher education. In 2003, this cooperation was put on a more established footing with the founding of the NOQA network, which includes all higher education evaluation and quality assurance bodies in the Nordic countries. The NOQA member states discuss common issues of higher education policy, quality assurance in higher educations as well as new international trends. The main objective is to create a joint understanding of different Nordic viewpoints on issues relating to higher education quality assurance. Through its successful activities, the network has provided its members with an opportunity to compare policies in neighbouring countries and for reciprocal learning. The annual joint projects in particular have promoted peer learning.
New joint projects and their objectives and implementation are discussed and decided at the annual NOQA forums. The forums are organised by the member states on a rotating basis.
Collaboration within Europe mainly takes place through ENQA, of which FINHEEC is an active member and contributor. ENQA also provides FINHEEC with an avenue for influencing European debate on evaluation policy.
The progress of the Bologna Process is a key issue in the higher education sector at the European level. The Bologna Process refers to the Bologna Declaration signed in 1999 by the Ministers of Education of the Member States to create a common and competitive European Higher Education Area. At subsequent follow-up meetings, the European ministers responsible for education have set additional objectives for the process and undertaken a commitment to establish the European Higher Education Area by 2010. The Ministers convened in Berlin in September 2003 to review the progress achieved and to set priorities and new objectives with a view to speeding up the realisation of the European Higher Education Area. The objectives set out in the Berlin Communiqué included the promotion of mobility, the establishment of a credit system and the recognition of degrees - the adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees.
Higher education quality assurance also occupies an important position and has been made a priority by the ministers in the establishment of a European Higher Education Area. The aim is to create common quality assurance criteria and standards and in this way to ensure the transparency of quality assurance at the national and European level as well as the level of individual higher education institutes.