Success of the decade: Accreditations of Slovak higher education institutions will be published in the European database EQAR

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Nearly a decade of effort has paid off. After the modification of legislation, the establishment of the Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education, and the introduction of accreditation standards, the new Slovak accreditation proceedings have met the demanding European requirements.

The Commission of the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) decided to include the Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education (SAAHE) in the European Register of Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education. This gives SAAHE the right to enter decisions into the European database of DEQAR decisions. Slovakia has thus joined other developed European countries in quality assurance of higher education.

This decision was preceded by an SAAHE (ENQA Agency Review) assessment by a panel of experts from the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education ENQA. They visited the Agency at the end of March. They interviewed more than 50 people, representatives of the Agency, reviewers, representatives of universities, students, and employers. The interviews were also attended in person by the then Minister of Education and the Vice-Chair of the Education Committee of the National Assembly of the Slovak Republic. The final evaluation report was published in October this year and became the basis for EQAR decision-making.

In its decision, EQAR, as the leading European authority in this field, recognised that the status of SAAHE, as well as its quality assurance procedures, are in line with the requirements of the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG), which are the best-known practices in this field in Europe. “I am very pleased about this because we are helping universities not only to improve in their provision of education but also to improve their reputation,” says Robert Redhammer, chair of the Agency’s Executive Board. “It is the lower reputation of universities that is one of the reasons why young people go abroad,” he adds.

From now on, SAAHE accreditation decisions will be published in the Database of External Quality Assurance Results (DEQAR). This will increase the transparency and visibility of the credentials of Slovak universities worldwide. “The pan-European visibility will create more pressure for internal quality improvement of our universities,” adds Redhammer. In January, the technical alignment of our Agency’s information systems and the European register will take place.

Meanwhile, assessments of Slovak universities are underway at home. “The scale of the assessments is enormous. More than 400 experts, representatives of employers, and students have visited universities. They conducted guided interviews with more than 4,000 teachers, students, and partners from the practice of the assessed universities,” says Andrea Zacharová, Head of the Accreditation Activities Department at SAAHE.

The Agency’s Review Panels are currently working on the evaluation report, which, together with other documentation and the school’s statement, will be the basis for accreditation decisions. The first evaluation reports have already been sent to the universities for comments. It is expected that the Executive Board of the Agency will start adopting resolutions on the individual proceedings in February next year. These decisions, together with the evaluation reports, will already be uploaded to the European above DEQAR database.