Accreditation has become an established external quality assurance instrument for learning and teaching at German universities. In addition to accreditation at the level of individual study programs (program accreditation), universities have had the opportunity since 2008 to demonstrate the quality of their degree programs via accreditation by internal quality assurance systems ("system accreditation").
In spring 2011, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) was the first German university to successfully complete the process of system accreditation. The system accreditation procedure, which is based on JGU's pilot project of the same name, follows the set of criteria and the plan of operation determined by the German Accreditation Council and offered by accrediting agencies. JGU was evaluated in a peer-review procedure by a five-member team of external experts, consisting of members from various universities and stakeholders with a knowledge of quality management systems, as well as a QA representative and a student representative. Results of two on-site inspections, analyses of selected aspects of learning and teaching (characteristic random sample), and a review of 14 degree programs at JGU (program sample) proved that JGU has an adequate control and quality assurance system in place to secure the achievement of the qualification targets and quality standards of its degree programs.