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Europe of Health and the future of quality assurance

Cédric Grolleau, Executive Manager, FEDCAR, European Federation of Dental Regulators, Belgium

The quality assurance of healthcare professionals training in Europe needs to be improved.

As stated by the General Dental Council’s Review and mapping of basic dental training in EU Member States (2021), when quality assurance exists it is mostly undertaken on a national basis. As stated by the European Commission this national approach risks not only “the set-up, validation and recognition of new joint educational programmes” but it also gets “in the way of free movement of students, academics and researchers “.

This appears to render obsolete the Recommendation of 15 February 2006 on further European cooperation in quality assurance in higher education (2006/143/EC). The EU Commission will propose an updated draft in 2023.

This commitment is welcomed by associations of regulators of health professionals. EURHECA and FEDCAR who represent health profession regulators and dental profession regulators, and who signed a common position paper on that issue: Mobility of healthcare professionals: its implications for EU4Health & the European Education Area.

Interestingly it is also welcomed by the EU Council. In its 2021 conclusions on the European Universities initiative - Bridging higher education, research, innovation and society: Paving the way for a new dimension in European higher education, the Council has more than taken note of the situation and has invited the member states with full regard to the academic freedom, to “Identify and remove, where necessary, obstacles to a European approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes”.

Several means are listed to do so, such as “reinforcing institutional linkages and procedures between evaluation, accreditation, and quality assurance agencies registered on EQAR” [i.e. the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education], “facilitating the implementation of quality assurance procedures” and “encouraging joint evaluation and accreditation of study programmes”.

The Council has also invited the Commission with the member states to explore “the need and feasibility for joint European degrees within the alliances of ‘European Universities’” and to promote “further European cooperation on quality assurance “.

FEDCAR invites cooperation in the field of health. According to the statistics available via the Internal Market Information System (IMI) system, health professions are among the most mobile in the internal market; trust must therefore be enhanced regarding the quality of their theoretical, practical and, importantly, clinical training. This is expected by both regulators and patients. This is also expected by the World Health Organisation; in its Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030 it underlines the obvious need to develop a true quality insurance and requests that: “all countries will have established accreditation mechanisms for health training institutions”.

“Ensuring quality assurance is the foundation for mutual trust that enables in-depth cooperation and seamless mobility ”. It also underlays the Europe of Health.

Ares (2021)6442979 - 20/10/2021, p.2.
The Communication on a European strategy for universities (p.6).
See the EU Commission’s Communication on Reinforcing European higher education institutions (point 3.5) and the Communication on a European strategy for universities (p.6).
See the EU Commission’s Communication on a European strategy for universities (p.6).