How does the QR process take place in practice, and what are its main benefits?
The AESOP QR Programme today should be understood as a service whose role is to support the development and enhancement of planning programmes of AESOP member schools through quality recognition, sharing and mutual learning.
Applicants are provided with opportunities to engage in critical and constructive dialogue with a working group (WG) of EEB members appointed by the Chair by jointly catering to different aspects of their programmes, championing best practices, and fostering a continuous ethos of quality enhancement. This occurs through procedures that reflect the QR mission and its underlying values:
- Preparation of the QR application: AESOP member schools from across Europe are encouraged to submit their QR applications after the launch of an annual call. The form demands that applicants engage in constant intra-institutional reflection whilst evidencing every claim made in relation to the requested criteria on programme distinctiveness and principles of pedagogy.
- Review of application submissions: The appointed WG reviews the applications whilst preparing a first interim feedback report, which is then forwarded to the applicants in preparation for a first physical or virtual meeting alongside the WG.
- First meeting: The interim feedback report serves as the basis through which applicants and the WG engage in dialogue deliberating on missing programme-level and pedagogical evidence in relation to any claims being made. This exercise is aimed at jointly identifying best practices that can contribute to developing a clear understanding of the different characters and identities of the planning programme across Europe and how it fulfils the stated criteria.
- Successive rounds of re-submissions and meetings: an iterative process consisting of one, two or more rounds of re-submissions (each followed by interim feedback reports and subsequent interactions between the applicants and the WG) are held until the final application fully complies with the criteria. It is important to note that there is no rejection of applications. When applicants cannot satisfy specific criteria, the application is taken forward and continued within the next annual QR process. The underlying approach is to secure a continual improvement of planning education amongst AESOP members.
The QR annual timeline allocates four to five months to the above processes. The full recognition is formalised by the AESOP Certificate of Quality, accompanied by an Evaluation Report showcasing best practices in terms of the programme curriculum, its identity and fulfilment of principles of pedagogy. The certification is valid for six years and awarded at the annual AESOP General Assembly. The AESOP Certificates of Quality, alongside their Evaluation Reports showcasing best practices, are displayed on the AESOP QR webpage to promote a proactive and cooperative process of collective improvement of quality in planning education among the AESOP member schools.