How does the Agency plan to work with employers to keep graduates in Slovakia?
On 28 February 2023, the Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education held a discussion with representatives of the Alliance of Sector Councils and Employers’ Associations on the upcoming accreditation of higher education institutions. The aim of the meeting was to exchange information on cooperation with universities in recent months.
The Agency was interested in employers’ real experience of cooperation with universities in recent months. The universities were obliged to establish their own quality management mechanisms and to review the study programmes offered, including in terms of the qualifications provided and the applicability of graduates in practice. New accreditation standards require them to do so.
The Chair of the Agency’s Executive Board, prof. Robert Redhammer outlined the steps taken by both the Agency and the universities in the past years and outlined the current developments in the accreditation proceedings underway. He compared the essence of the reform of accreditation of higher education institutions to the transition to quality assurance and improvement as it is known in economic practice.
Changes in accreditation requirements, in particular, point to the need for real dialogue between universities and employers, and students. Universities are required to publish more detailed descriptions of study programmes, to set out clearly the aims of education in terms of the qualifications to be awarded, and to give examples of occupations that graduates will be able to pursue after graduation.
Employers were not only interested in the forthcoming accreditation mechanisms, review panel group structures, or professional study programmes. The main topic was the applicability of university graduates in practice, the development of “soft skills” in students as well as the consideration of research and innovation cooperation between universities and employers.
All participants agreed on the importance of cooperation between representatives of the labour market and education.
The partners agreed that the situation in the labour market is complicated and many young students or graduates go abroad to work and live, which reduces the competitiveness of domestic companies. One of the ways to keep talents at home is to improve the quality of higher education. It is for this reason that the system of ensuring and improving the quality of higher education itself needs to be further developed and improved.
Participants of the meeting: National Union of Employers (NUE) (Peter Fečík, Peter Obdržálek), Association of Employers’ Union and Association of the Slovak Republic (AEUA SR) (Andrej Hutta, Peter Ševčík), Association of Industrial Unions and Transport (Dominika Kravecová; Polascin Tomas), Slovak Chamber of Trades and Crafts (Jaroslav Juriga), TREXIMA Bratislava. s r.o. (Lucia Lednárová- Dítětová) a Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education (Robert Redhammer, René Matlovič, Dušan Faktor, Andrea Zacharová).
The Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education has set accreditation standards according to European standards: Standards and Guidelines for the European Higher Education Area.
The Slovak Higher Education Accreditation Agency is an associate member of ENQA – the European Association of Quality Assurance Agencies for Higher Education and ENAI – the European Network for Academic Integrity.