On 2 September 2022 MusiQuE participated at the 11th edition of the ANMAtalks series Quality Enhancement in Higher Music Education: Need a Critical Friend? ANMAtalks is an initiative for sharing knowledge between students, staff, and management of the Nordic and Baltic academies for higher music education and other individuals who might be interested. ANMAtalks was initiated by the ANMA ExCom and is being developed by Keld Hosbond, Vice Principal and Head of International Relations at the Royal Academy of Music Aarhus (RAMA) and Camilla Overgaard, teacher at RAMA and Project Coordinator of ANMAtalks. This edition focused on quality assurance in higher music education institution, which included MusiQuE’s perspectives on the topic.

Speakers involved in this online event included Martin Prchal (MusiQuE Senior Advisor and Vice Principal of Royal Conservatoire The Hague), Eva van Ingen (Student at Royal Conservatoire The Hague), Linda Messas (MusiQuE Director) and Orla McDonagh, MusiQuE Board member and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at TU Dublin, who moderated the debate.

Martin Prchal provided an insight into the process of a Critical Friend Review and its structure, using the example of the Royal Conservatoire The Hague. Firstly, he indicated the specific characteristics of this approach, by comparing it to a general review procedure. Then, he presented the concept of quality, within the Critical Friend approach, and the principal stages of a Critical Friend visit.

Eva van Ingen shared her experience on receiving and interacting with a Critical Friend as a student from a visited institution. She remarked the importance of the student perspective for the Critical Friend and acknowledged the benefits of being advised by an international expert.

Linda Messas presented the Critical Friend in different institutional contexts. She explained how procedures are adapted according to the type of institution, being independent or part of a larger entity, which showed the diversity of approaches that can be used within the Critical Friend approach.

The webinar finalised with an open discussion with members of the audience, including experienced MusiQuE Peer Reviewers who have acted as Critical Friends and representatives of higher music education institutions.