All Slovak higher education institutions and universities have successfully adapted to the new standards. They have introduced their internal control mechanisms to ensure the quality of the educational process and have reviewed all their study programmes. As a result of this process, the majority of study programmes have been modified and almost 2,500 have been cancelled. This brings quality assurance closer to European standards.
“The aim of introducing quality management of study programmes, coordinated by the Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education, is to raise the level of education in Slovak universities. It should better guarantee the acquisition of knowledge and skills by students in line with the expectations of society and practice and ifollowing European conventions” said Robert Redhammer, Chair of the Executive Board of the Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education.
With the setting of new quality assurance standards two years ago, the process of internal adjustments at higher education institutions to meet these higher requirements began. Most study programmes have undergone the process of study programmes modification. For 646 of them, the Agency has directly given prior approval for the modification. The modifications were mostly to clarify learning objectives and outcomes, placement opportunities, updating courses and their information sheets, literature and teachers, but also to increase the “flexibility of the paths” of student learning, or the conditions for successful completion. Updating documentation and adding new items will bring better information to students and the public.
The Slovak Higher Education Accreditation Agency also approved 133 changes to the names of study programmes. The implementation of 16 study programmes is moving to a new location. In addition, universities have cancelled up to 40% of study programmes, significantly reducing their offer (from 6,505 as of 1 September 2020 to 4,040 as of 10 September 2022). The smaller number of study programmes is expected to make them more robust, more widely staffed with teachers as well as more stable and flexible for students.
By the end of this year, all higher education institutions must produce a self-assessment report clearly describing both the steps they have taken and the current status of their quality assurance processes against the requirements of the standards. Subsequently, the Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education will review the internal systems of the colleges as well as their study programmes. In case of deficiencies, it will impose corrective measures.
The Agency itself will also be audited this year. Also based on the evaluation by the international panel, the Slovak Accreditation Agency’s membership in the international structures of ENQA and EQAR will be decided in early 2023. Acceptance of the Agency into this international community would be a great success for the entire Slovak higher education. All accreditations of Slovak higher education institutions will then be entered into the European Register of Decisions of DEQAR. Universities will thus gain a higher reputation abroad.