Reform of the legal framework of quality assurance in higher education and science
Croatia , 2009 to Unknown
Compendium: Modernisation of Higher Education
Further implementation of quality assurance procedures over the following years identified problems with the legal framework; the old framework did not provide possibilities for further development of the quality assurance system in science and higher education. Following a period of analysis and consultations, in 2009 a new Act on Quality Assurance in Science and Higher Education was adopted. This Act redefined the role of ASHE and further regulated the procedures of quality assurance in science and higher education, as well as the bodies responsible for their implementation and outcomes.
Aims and targets
More specifically, the targets were to ensure that all institutions in the Croatian system of higher education and science met the national quality standards, as well as to ensure that these standards remained in coherence with the standards in Europe and elsewhere.
Continuously foster further developments of the system of science and higher education aimed at guaranteeing the reliability of Croatian higher education qualifications.
Finally, the focus was shifted from initial accreditation of new study programmes, where only minimum criteria were checked, to institutional re-accreditation whose aim is to promote enhancement of overall quality. In order to foster accountability, all public universities received autonomy to accredit their own study programmes.
Strategy and actionsActions conducted under this policy involve:
Compulsory re-accreditation of all higher education institutions, study programmes and scientific organisations in 5-year cycles. Re-accreditation includes assessment of the minimal conditions necessary to carry out relevant activites, as well as a quality assessment.
Thematic evaluation of some segment of the activties of higher education institutions or scientific organisations, aimed at supporting strategic bodies in evidence-based policy making.
Initial accreditation of new study programmes based on clearly defined qualitative and quanititive criteria.
Establishment of new higher education institutions based on a mentoring model which requires from the new HEI to cooperate with an accredited one, in order to prevent mushrooming of HEIs of insufficient quality.
Introduction of the State Matura as the basis of enrolment to HEIs, which brought transparency and fairness to the process of application and enrolment.
Monitoring and evaluationASHE procedures and national regulations ensure the involvement of all stakeholders (including national and international experts, students, business community, civil sector) in the quality assurance procedures and decision making, as well as evaluation sheets and analyses. Such an approach aims to provide for objectivity, transparency as well as feedback which can be used for improvement of plans and procedures.
Funding/Cost effectivenessProcedures are funded from the state budget in line with the annual plan; the Agency Management Board approves the annual reports on the expenditure.
Sustainability/TransferabilityThe sustainability of the procedures is ensured by the legal framework as well as the state policies which provide material, human and financial resources necessary to implement the annual plans.
The legal framework as well as the documents and the procedures of quality assurance in science and higher education are fully harmonised with best European and global examples of good practice and are thus transferrable to other countries, especially the countries in the region with historically similar systems of higher education and science.
AchievementsASHE has taken over all the tasks related to external quality assurance and the national level. The establishment of new HEIs, study programmes and scientific institutions was succesfully put under check. Quality assurance units have been established at HEIs, and the development of a wider concept of quality culture has begun at the institutional as well as the national level. Overall level of cooperation of internal and external stakeholders in the area of higher education and science has been improved, and is being monitored.
Strategic planning has been encouraged at the institutional level. The outcomes of quality assurance procedures have had a positive effect on the capacities for evidence-based policy making. Transparency was significantly increased at all levels. ASHE became a member of INQAAHE, CEEN and OECD IMHE, and is ready to apply to ENQA and EQAR.
At the same time, the universities have begun the development of procedures for self-accreditation of study programmes.
Success factorsDevelopment and improvement of the system of science and higher education, its regional and international reliability and visibilty.
Unintended impactsASHE activities (workshops for external evaluation procedures, seminars to promote best practice and development of quality culture) resulted in better cooperation between HEIs and scientific organisations, particularly in similar scientific fields , i.e. a platform for stronger future networking.
Development of learning outcomes and the National Qualifications Framework as well as better links between HE and employment sectors.
Reinforced liablity of HEIs regarding the quality of their study programmes.
Strengths and weaknessesThe autonomy of ASHE ensures the overall trust in the system.
ASHE still needs to develop a comprehensive information system for collecting data, improve communication with the stakeholders and the public, and strenghten its regional position, as well as international position by joining ENQA. All structural preconditions for these improvements have already been satisfied.