INQAAHE Conference 2023
Roadmap to Enabling Quality in Tertiary Education 2030

May 29, 2023




Flexible Learning Pathways (FLP) in Higher Education - What Challenges and What Solutions for External Quality Assurance (EQA) Agencies?

Higher education systems across the world are currently faced with a massive influx of learners with more diverse needs. They are expected to respond to this growing diversity through a more flexible learning offer and pathways that allow all learners, including from disadvantaged backgrounds, to access, progress and complete higher education.

Flexible learning strategies are implemented, among others, through Open and Distance Learning (ODL), recognition of prior learning and micro-credentialing. Quality assurance (QA) systems play a major role in ensuring trust in flexible learning pathways (FLPs), but they also create new challenges for EQA agencies to respond to them.

The workshop will offer an overview presentation followed by a Q&A session on flexible learning pathways, the challenges they create for QA and good practices already available in the area. It will then move into parallel thematic working groups dealing with Open and Distance Learning (ODL), recognition of prior learning and micro-credentialing to discuss available QA procedures, and what participants think is missing in their QA systems. The discussion will also address the current policy environments, how favorable they are for implementing FLPs, as well as the challenges and support required.

Group discussions will be followed by a reporting-back of working group outcomes to the workshop plenary.

The IIEP–UNESCO undertook international research on SDG 4: Planning for Flexible Learning Pathways (FLP) in Higher Education. The project included a stocktaking exercise of policies, instruments and practices, an international survey of FLP among UNESCO Member States, and eight in-depth country studies. The comparative analysis of the publication can be found here: Flexible Learning Pathways in HE.  More information is also available on IIEP’s webpage on the project:

Facilitated by:

Dr. Michaela Martin

Michaela Martin has a track record of more than 30 years in research and teaching in higher education policy, governance and planning. She holds a doctorate in Education from the University of Paris, a Post-graduate degree from the College of Europe, Bruges, Belgium, a Master’s degree in Franco-German Economic Relations from the University of Paris III (France).  

Since she joined the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) in 1990, she has been specializing in the management of higher education. Since 2004, she has been in charge of an international research and training programme in the area of internal and external quality assurance in higher education. Since 2017, she is in charge of a research on flexible learning pathways in higher education. Since September 2022 she is the interim Assistant Director a.i. at UNESCO IIEP.

Over the years, she has published some 50 single or co-authored books, articles and several series of training modules.

INQAAHE Conference 2023 is sponsored by KazMunayGas, a platinum sponsor, the Education & Training Evaluation Commission (ETEC), a gold sponsor, Astana Development, a bronze sponsor, and Kazakh Tourism.