Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education will soon implement the Renewal Plan

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The Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education (SAAHE) is responsible for the implementation of the reform “New Approach to Higher Education Accreditation”, which is part of the Renewal Plan under the title “Improving the Performance of Slovak Higher Education Institutions”. It is now significantly closer to meeting this plan’s stated objectives.

SAAHE’s approach to accreditation of higher education is based on the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG 2015). The Agency’s independence and alignment with European standards are to be ensured by proper membership of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) and registration in the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR). SAAHE has fully committed its activities to this goal in 2022. Together with its partners, it has completed the European SEQA-ESG project and has started to communicate with European institutions. In November 2022, it concluded a tripartite agreement on the European Assessment Agency Terms of the Reference process. According to the agreement, SAAHE will be visited by the European Audit Review Group at the end of March 2023. Its key input is the self-assessment report SAAHE has already sent to ENQA.

The Agency has prepared and approved new accreditation standards that have tightened the standards and conditions for the delivery of study programmes and set requirements for policies, structures, and processes in the internal quality assurance of higher education in higher education institutions. Institutions had to comply with the new standards and notify the Agency by 1 September 2022. All institutions established in the Slovak Republic have complied with the obligation.

The stricter rules have led to a significant reduction in study programmes. The total number of study programmes has been reduced from 6,675 study programmes at the beginning of the implementation of the reform (as of 1.9.2020) to 3,902 study programmes at present (as of 30.11.2022). Institutions have abolished 2 773 study programmes, i.e. 41.5% of their original number at the beginning of the reform. As part of the reform, institutions have had 177 new study programmes accredited and the remaining study programmes have been adapted to demonstrate high-quality education with a clear profiling and a strong orientation towards the student and his/her learning and teaching needs. They have also taken into account the expectations of socio-economic practice. Institutions have aligned their internal quality assurance systems with the standards to involve students and external stakeholders in the design, monitoring, and modification of curricula.

By the end of 2022, institutions still have until the end of the year 2022 to ask the Agency to assess their internal quality systems and their implementation. At present, the first institution has already submitted an application and the vast majority of institutions (28 out of 33) already have applications in progress in the Agency’s information system. SAAHE is ready to receive and assess them. It has approved a new Methodology for the Evaluation of Standards and is continuously adding to the list of reviewers from which it will form review panels. Their composition will appropriately reflect the size, organizational structure, disciplinary diversity, mission, and strategic goals of the institutions. The review panel will also include international reviewers, students, and representatives of employers, professional organisations, and other external stakeholders. The final assessment results of internal quality systems will be known by the end of 2023.

PR 4.12.2022 – SAAHE will soon implement the Renewal Plan