Accreditation of higher education institutions – the first decisions on quality assurance of education have been made

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For the first time, higher education institutions in Slovakia are gaining the right to independently create new study programmes in the fields in which they operate. The Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education has decided that the quality assurance of education is in line with the standards at the first higher education institutions.

Higher education is introducing new quality assurance proceedings in line with Slovakia’s commitments to the Ministerial Agreement on the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). In doing so, higher education institutions assume a major part of the responsibility for the quality of the education provided. As part of this proceeding, they have established a system of internal rules and procedures which are now subject to accreditation. This is an initial assessment of their internal systems.

The Agency makes its decision based on a professional assessment of the higher education institutions by a group of independent experts. In doing so, it considers not only the evaluation report of the independent experts, the participants’ application documents, and its internal rules, but also its opinion on the experts’ evaluation report. This procedure is fully in line with the European Standards and Guidelines for the Accreditation of Higher Education Institutions (ESG).

The groups of reviewers have been assembled following the ESG so that they can make the best and most independent assessment of a particular institution. Almost half of the experts were from abroad. Each assessment included a physical visit to the institution, during which discussions took place not only with the management, but also with teachers, students, and the institution’s external partners in practice.

The first decisions are largely positive. In the evaluation reports received, the expert review panels formulated hundreds of concrete recommendations for improving their work.

“It is the specific recommendations of the reviewers directed to higher education institutions that are the main tool for external quality assurance and improvement of higher education. It is a tool of European standards and guidelines and is in the spirit of the well-established principles of continuous improvement” said Robert Redhammer, Chair of the Agency’s Executive Board.

“Critical to the overall success of educational improvement is the attitude of the institution itself and its people. If they choose to use these incentives to improve their work, to improve the quality assurance of education, then the chances are high that education will indeed improve,” Redhammer added.

The Agency’s procedures were subjected to a European assessment of agencies, the “ENQA Agency Review”, last year. Based on this, the Agency was registered in the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) in October 2023. Thus, all decisions of the Slovak agency will now also be published in its European database of DEQAR decisions.

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