Profile of the Agency

As an independent administrative authority set up in 2007, the AERES is tasked with evaluating research and higher education institutions, research organisations, research units, higher education programmes and degrees and with approving their staff evaluation procedures.

The AERES’ missions

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Created by the French programme law on research of 2006 and up and running since March 2007, the AERES intends to play a part in improving the quality of the French research and higher education system in accordance with the European recommendations and decisions of European ministers in the context of the Bologna Process.

The law tasks it with the following missions:

  • evaluating research organisations and institutions, research and higher education institutions, scientific cooperation foundations and institutions as well as the French National Research Agency by taking account of all their missions and activities
  • evaluating the research activities conducted by the research units of the aforementioned organisations and institutions, which the Agency either does directly or with the support of the research organisations and institutions according to procedures that it has approved
  • evaluating the programmes and degrees of higher education institutions
  • approving the staff evaluation procedures of research organisations and institutions and giving its opinion on the conditions under which these are implemented. Note that this concerns an evaluation of procedures and not of the staff themselves.

The AERES may also take part in evaluating foreign or international research and higher education organisations.

Context of its creation

The Agency’s creation is an outcome of the thoughts being given to the evaluation of public policies and the development of research and higher education in France. It is a reflection of the State’s resolve to equip the country with an evaluation tool in this field with which it can base its decisions on reliable, fair and transparent elements.

In this regard:

  • it has independent administrative authority status, allowing it to carry out its missions without having to bow to any pressure or subordination from governmental authorities, evaluated parties or any other stakeholder
  • it makes all of its evaluation reports accessible to the public and also publishes its evaluation methods and procedures in complete transparency
  • it acts in accordance with the international standards and European Standards and Guidelines (ESGs) adopted in Bergen (Norway) in 2005. From the outset it has particularly sought to develop a quality culture within institutions and research organisations: when each evaluation campaign is launched, discussions with the institutions are organised with a view to encouraging them to develop quality assurance procedures according to the European standards

An outward-looking national agency

The AERES acts with the European and international context in mind:

  • by calling on foreign experts with diverse backgrounds, chosen depending on what is being evaluated
  • by projecting itself on the international stage and opening up to other evaluation cultures
  • by working with other evaluation stakeholders worldwide
  • by developing brainstorming and international competencies within the Agency

In 2010, the AERES is itself entering an external evaluation process conducted by peers to renew its full membership of the ENQA (European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education) and inclusion in the EQAR (European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education), enabling it to shore up its credibility abroad.