The consolidation in the educational offerings of higher education continues. Most Slovak universities have introduced their own internal quality assurance systems and are now weeding out non-prospective study programmes. Undergraduates in the lower grades should wonder whether their study programme will continue in the autumn.
Two years ago, the Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education issued accreditation standards that higher education institutions have to comply with by 1 September 2022, so it means that all study programmes have to comply with the new requirements.
“This is good news for students, as schools should be delivering education in line with European ideas from September,” said Robert Redhammer, chair of the Agency’s Executive Board. This is because the accreditation standards issued by the Agency follow the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area – ESG. “ESG represents the best experience we have in Europe in quality assurance in higher education,” he explained.
In practical terms, this should bring greater transparency for students, more information about the programme, the learning objectives, the qualification they will receive on completion of the programme, greater flexibility of study, more influence of students and practice on the content, etc.
“Although the Agency will only start reviewing universities’ compliance with quality requirements at the end of the calendar year, schools may have some shortcomings, the very introduction of systematic quality assurance at the university brings positive added value,” says Redhammer.
The two-years for compliance was given to schools mainly to allow them time to curtail those degree programmes that will not be complied with but still have students studying on them. We expect that from 2022/2023, schools will only offer complied study programmes.
All overhead is the responsibility of the universities. Most universities have taken responsibility into their own hands and are reviewing the standard of their study programmes. They can modify or cancel them.
In case the university cannot bring a degree programme into line with the new requirements of the accreditation standards, or there is little interest in it, or it does not have the funding to offer it, or it is deemed unviable, university needs to cancel that degree programme. We anticipate that the vast majority of study programmes that schools will be cancelled will have students graduate by the end of this school year.
Nevertheless, some schools may still fail to do so entirely. After losing their accreditation, students fail to complete the degree programme they have enrolled in, so the university must offer them the opportunity to graduate in another similar degree programme or arrange for the same degree programme in another university. “In any case, we recommend that undergraduate students inquire whether the university expects to continue their study programme beyond 1 September 2022,” Redhammer points out.
Applicants for studies – school leavers should not be affected, as all offered degree programmes by universities expect to meet the new accreditation requirements.
The two-year process of introducing the new standards to universities is bearing fruit. The changes are already showing up in the numbers. Of overall 6 600 registered study programmes in the Ministry of Education in Slovak Republic as of 1 September 2020, approximately 5 700 study programmes are now in the register. By the beginning of the new academic year, Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education expects this number to be reduced by around 1,000. Overall, this will be less than one-third in about two years.
Media contact: Zlata Petrusová, zlata. petrusova [at] saavs.sk; tel.: 0948/988 265