Representatives of the accreditation agencies of the Visegrad Four countries consulted on how to improve higher education and better accreditation at the V4QA Forum in Bratislava. The quality of higher education is a topical and urgent issue, especially in Slovakia. The Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education hosted its partners under the auspices of the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic and with the support of the Visegrad Fund.
Key for all agencies is the fulfilment of the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ESG 2015). This is the most elaborated standard in this field in Europe and its fulfilment is a condition for joining ENQA, the European Association for Quality Assurance Agencies, as well as for registration in the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education EQAR.
All V4 agencies should undergo an audit of European organisations for compliance with the requirements of ESG 2015, the so-called ENQA Agency Review, in the near future. Therefore, their representatives agreed to prepare together by sharing experiences and good practices. The agencies will hold a special event on this topic early next year.
The Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education has also asked ENQA Agency Review to assess its own work and the ENQA audit calendar has been set for the first half of 2023. If successful, all accreditation results of Slovak HEIs will be entered into the European Register of Accreditation Decisions DEQAR. This could not only improve the quality of higher education provision but also improve the reputation of Slovak universities abroad.
“It is important for Slovakia that the agency fulfils these requirements to be included in the European register in the same way as about 50 other agencies of other countries are included”, said Robert Redhammer, chair of the Executive Board of SAAHE. “Although we have already done a lot together with the schools, we still have a lot of work to do. Personally, I care not only about improving higher education but also about improving the reputation of Slovak universities. Their reputation is the basis for young people’s interest in getting an education in Slovakia and for mediating where they will live and work,” adds Redhammer.
The intention to meet and coordinate activities aimed at improving higher education was established last year. At that time, representatives of higher education quality assurance agencies signed a Memorandum on the establishment of the Forum (V4QA Forum) in Budapest. On 1 July 2022, the Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education took over the coordination tasks of the Forum.
The heads of the accreditation agencies agreed on the rotational principle of an annual working meeting of the V4QA Forum. Next year, the Czech Republic will hold the V4 presidency, so the meeting will take place in Prague.