As the German Accreditation System is organised in a decentralised manner, one of its characteristics is that the accreditation of study programmes is carried out by Accreditation Agencies, who in turn are accredited by the Accreditation Council of the Foundation for the Accreditation of Study Programmes in Germany. The Accreditation Council – as the central decision-making body of the foundation – defines the basic requirements of the process and takes care that any accreditation is carried out on the basis of reliable, transparent and internationally recognised criteria. The legal basis of the accreditation system is set out in the Law for the establishment of the “Foundation for the Accreditation of Study Programmes in Germany" as well as in the contracts concluded between the Foundation and the agencies, where the rights and obligations of the partner institutions involved in the accreditation system are defined. As part of their contract agreements, the agencies commit themselves to the deployment of the criteria and further decisions of the Accreditation Council as well as to taking the common constitutional requirements of the Conference of German Cultural Ministers, in their currently valid version, into consideration.
Accreditation of Study Programmes
The current objects of the accreditation process are study programmes for Bachelor and Master Degrees from State-, or State-recognised, Higher Education Institutions in Germany. If a study programme has successfully undergone an accreditation process, then it is awarded accreditation for a limited period, with or without conditions, and carries the Quality Seal of the Foundation for the duration of this period. Where any study programmes are combined in a logical and justified way, the accreditation can also be carried out in a combined way. In such cases the accreditation decision is always made on the basis of the individual study programme.
The accreditation process is made up of several stages and is based on the peer review principle. When a Higher Education Institution submits an application for the accreditation of a study programme to an agency that they have chosen, the relevant agency deploys an evaluation group whose composition must be a reflection not just of the specialist content focus of the study programme but also of its specific profile. In each case the evaluation group is made up of representatives of Higher Education Institutions, i.e. professors and students, and of representatives of the profession. The evaluation of the study programme is carried out in accordance with the given Criteria for the Accreditation of Study Programmes by the Accreditation Council and, as a rule, includes an on-site inspection of the establishment by the evaluators. On the basis of the assessment report drawn up by the evaluation group and in accordance with the decision regulations provided by the Accreditation Council, the responsible Accreditation Commission from the agency decides either to grant an accreditation for the relevant study programme, to grant an accreditation with conditions, to abandon the process or to reject the accreditation.
The accreditation of study programmes for Bachelor and Master Degrees is prescribed as a directive in the common constitutional requirements of the Conference of German Cultural Ministers and must, as a precondition for the granting of state approval, be embedded in the various individual laws concerning Higher Education in each Federal German State.
(from the German Accreditation Council’s website)