5.4 Transnational cooperation and peer review

Transnational cooperation through participation in conferences, study visits, joint projects or mobility of teachers and students provides opportunities for learning and thus for improving quality. The activities conducted may reinforce one another and create synergy: a study visit might turn into sustained cooperation and joint projects, participation at a conference may lead to common visits and exchange of students, teachers and trainers. Transnational cooperation provides staff and students with additional opportunities to develop language skills and intercultural competences.

While transnational cooperation’s impact on quality is rather diffuse and difficult to measure, peer reviews focus directly on quality. A peer review is a voluntary, improvement-oriented and external evaluation of a VET provider by its peers, colleagues from other VET providers on an equal standing with those whose performance is reviewed. Usually, peers work in teams of four that must comprise all competences and expertise necessary, namely experience in education and training (active teachers/trainers must be part of the team), expertise in the quality areas under scrutiny and some competences in quality management and evaluation. Peers are also called ‘critical friends’. The peer review becomes ‘transnational’ if at least one member of the peer team comes from a foreign country.

Peer review does not propose a ‘new’ system, but builds on quality management already in place, by applying a step-by-step procedure: it starts with a self-evaluation by the VET provider, it includes a site visit by peers, and results of the review are laid down in an evaluation report.

In distinction to control-oriented external evaluation schemes, peer reviews are voluntary procedures with a purely formative function, building on professionalism of VET practitioners and supporting networking between VET institutions. Traditionally used for external quality assurance in higher education, peer review has been transferred to VET lately. Among various approaches, it is worth mentioning the Leonardo da Vinci projects carried out between 2004 and 2009 (ÖIBF, 2009a; 2009b; 2009c), to support VET providers in improving quality of their services with a clear reference to the EQAVET framework.

Peer reviews are targeted at institutions seeking alternative forms of external evaluation or wanting to complement traditional accreditation/ certification with a ‘friendly, yet critical’ approach tailored to their needs and paying special attention to teaching and learning. Both sides – the reviewed institution and the peers – will benefit from a peer review. If conducted in a quality-assured way, following the European peer review manual, peer review procedures gain added credibility and recognition from external stakeholders.


Box 36. Toolbox for implementing a peer review

The European peer review manual for IVET describes a standard European procedure for use of peer reviews in IVET and CVET. The manual offers directly implementable guidelines for VET providers who want to introduce peer review into their quality assessment and development procedures. It is currently available in 15 European languages.

The manual is complemented by a practical toolbox that includes a set of quality areas with quality criteria and indicators as well as various forms and checklists designed to guide and support peers and VET providers during the peer review.

A peer training programme helps to prepare peers for their task. It was developed based on a detailed competence profile for peers.

All tools are available from www.peer-review-education.net [accessed 26.5.2014].



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5.4 Transnational cooperation and peer review

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