Peer Review

The Council Recommendation of 24 November 2020 on vocational education and training (VET) for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience stressed the strategic function of EQAVET National Reference Points (NrpS) for the diffusion of and support to: a) self-assessment as a valuable tool for ensuring quality; b) the peer review process, which is recommended both at the level of VET providers and as a more generalised systemic approach. 

Peer Reviewing for VET providers 

At the level of VET providers, the peer reviewing process is based on a method which was first introduced and experimented in Europe, which consists in combining VET-providers’ self-assessment with the external assessment issued by peers. Peer review is voluntary in its scope, and it has a formative function aimed at fostering and ensuring quality. 

Evaluation is carried out through Peer Review visits in which a group of professionals (i.e peers) not belonging to the institution that shall be assessed are called in to gauge the quality level of some areas of the formative structure using the relevant quality indices and descriptors. Despite their being external to the centres and institutes they are called in to assess, peers come from analogous contexts and can claim long-standing experience and professionality with respect to the aspects they are to evaluate; thus, owing to this parity-basis, the presence of peers fosters an atmosphere of open-mindedness and reciprocal learning, which is conducive to mutual trust between the involved participants and institutions.

For further information and more detailed knowledge of the Peer Review methods currently employed in Europe in the VET domain, please check the Peer Review Manual for Guidance in Adult Education in the Documents section.

Peer Reviewing at the level of VET systems

Peer Reviewing for VET systems stakeholders is a crucially important procedure aimed at maximising transparency and consistency across all measures and resolutions adopted in the field of quality management or in order to strengthen mutual trust between member Countries. At the systemic level, two technical-scientific documents have been drafted (i.e Methodological proposal for the EQAVET Network’s approach to system level Peer Reviews e The EQAVET Network’s approach to system level peer reviews – A manual) for the purpose of ensuring that peer review assessment be carried out according to EQAVET standards. Both are available in the Documents section. Their drafting was based on the Recommendation of 24 November 2020, which provides for the introduction of peer reviewing at the systemic level in order to offer member countries and institutions the opportunity to analyse their own performance and measures on the matter of VET-quality within their national frameworks.

The application of Systemic Peer Review is promoted by National Reference Points. Participation is on a voluntary basis, insofar as each EU member country shall be accorded free choice on the matter of participating in and/or hosting such activities.

The Italian Reference Point took part in the initiative by hosting a Peer Review visit on 26 and 27 October 2022 on the themes of “Quality assurance in IeFP pathways with a stronger work-based learning component” as well as by participating in Peer Review visits to five different member countries, as scheduled in the official shared calendar for the initiative. 

For a closer analysis of the methods and core principles of the Peer Review system, watch the following video of the EQAVET network Introduction webinar to EQAVET peer reviews – YouTube.