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Project „Evaluation of higher education study programmes and proposals for improvement of quality”.
Agreement No. 2011/0012/1DP/1.1.2.2.1/11/IPIA/VIAA/001
Methods and methodology for evaluation of study directions

 

1. Used abbreviations

Methods – A description of evaluation process of a study direction

Regulations – Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers No.1058 (approved on 16 November 2010.) „Regulations on the first stage of project selection within the ESF activity programme's „Human Resources and Employment” supplement 1.1.2.2.1. sub-activity "Improvement of Study Programme content and Their Implementation and Improvement of Academic Staff's Competence""

Project - European Social Fund's project „Evaluation of Higher Education Study Programmes and Proposals for Quality Improvement” within the activity 1.1.2.2. „Support for the Improvement of Higher Education Study Programmes””, agreement No. 2011/0012/1DP/1.1.2.2.1/11/IPIA/VIAA/001

HEI – Higher Education Institution

AIKNC – Higher Education Quality Evaluation Centre (Augstākās izglītības kvalitātes novērtēšanas centrs)

AIP – Higher Education Council (Augstākās izglītības padome)

EC – European Commission

ENQA - European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education

ESG - „Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area”

IKVD – State Education Quality Service (Izglītības kvalitātes valsts dienests)

IZM – Ministry of Education and Science (Izglītības un zinātnes ministrija)

LDDK – Latvian Confederation of Employers (Latvijas Darba devēju konfederācija)

LR –Republic of Latvia

LSA - Latvian Student Union (Latvijas studentu apvienība)

NK – Study direction evaluation commission

SP - study programme

2. Aims and tasks of study direction evaluation

Evaluation of study directions is performed in accordance with the European Social Fund's project “Evaluation of Higher Education Study Programmes and Proposals for Quality Improvement” within the activity 1.1.2.2. of the European Social Fund  „Support for the Improvement of Higher Education Study Programmes” implemented by AIP, No. 2011/0012/1DP/1.1.2.2.1/11/IPIA/VIAA/001(hereinafter – the Project), in accordance with the Cabinet of Minister's regulations No. 1058 (approved on 16 November 2010.) „Regulations on the first stage of project selection within the ESF activity programme's „Human Resources and Employment” supplement 1.1.2.2.1. sub-activity "Improvement of Study Programme content and Their Implementation and Improvement of Academic Staff's Competence"" (hereinafter – the Regulation), guided by the ENQA standards and guidelines for quality assurance approved by the Conference of European Ministers of Higher Education in Bergen, 19 – 20 May 2005 (the ENQA document „Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area” (ESG)). In addition to that the experts shall use „Recommendations of the European Parliament and Council on Development of a European Framework for Lifelong Learning” (approved in Strasbourg, 23 April 2008), „Recommendations of the European Parliament and Council on Future European Cooperation in Higher Education Quality Assurance” (15 February 2006), recommendations of the Bologna process and recommendations for harmonisation of requirements (Tuning Process: http://tuning.unideusto.org/tuningeu), PHARE and ERASMUS programme project results and recommendations (for example, „Manual for External Quality Evaluation Experts”,

http://www.aiknc.lv/static_media/dati/materiali/LV/Macibu%20programma.pdf).

The aim of study direction evaluation is the improvement of study programme implementation. The main groups of criteria are quality, resources, sustainability, cooperation. In addition to study of quality as compliance with the aim the study programme's sustainability, competitiveness and opportunities for export shall be researched, especially focusing attention on resource and cooperation, compliance with the development requirements of the respective region and Latvia in general. The experts shall submit evaluation on the level of overlapping of similar study programmes and its future course, in the first place evaluating the opportunities to join the resources and strengthen the cooperation between similar study programmes, using a common study programme development mechanism.
28 study directions have been formed based on „Latvian Education Classification” thematic groups (for code 3 and 4 chapters: see the Cabinet of Ministers regulation No. 931 (Rīga 5 October 2010) and the Cabinet of Ministers regulation No. 990 dated 2 December 2008 „Regulation on Latvian Education Classification”).
Organisation of evaluation is determined by AIP's guidelines „Methods and Methodology for Evaluation of Study Directions” (hereinafter – Methods), using the norms of the „Law on Higher Education Institutions”, the Regulations and the Cabinet of Ministers regulation No. 821 approved on 3 October 2006 „Accreditation procedure of Higher Education Institutions, colleges and Higher Education Programmes”.

3. Inclusion of a HEI in the evaluation process

The main stages for a HEI's participation in a study direction evaluation process are as follows:

  • HEI develops an internal quality assurance system, organises annual self-assessment of both the HEI and the study programme (SP) and compiles a self-assessment report on every study programme annually.
  • HEI signs a cooperation agreement with AIP in order to organise evaluation of SPs by study directions. HEI submits to the collaboration partner of AIP – IKVD data complying with a form developed by AIP. HEI submits to AIP reports on each SP in each of the directions represented in the HEI (approx. 20 pp., in English). In the reports HEI shall provide the necessary information for evaluation of SP in accordance with the SP evaluation criteria (questionnaire) developed by AIP. HEI should refer to the latest publicly available self-assessment reports (prepared during the last 5 years) of its SPs.
  • The project leadership upon recommendation of AIKNC and based on recommendations of LSA and LDDK regarding the representatives in evaluation creates a NK, in order to evaluate each of 28 study directions. AIKNC coordinates the functioning of all NKs.
  • AIKNC agrees with the NK and HEI on the project of further possible visit schedule. In case some SP is viewed as an interdisciplinary one it shall be included in all corresponding SP study directions and evaluated along with all respective study direction SPs repeatedly.

 

4. The flow of the evaluation process

The visits of Evaluation Commissions to a HEI are organised by AIP in collaboration with AIKNC. The work of the Evaluation Commissions is managed and checked by the Project Management which also takes responsibility for the results.

 

 

 

 

 

Preparatory  activities

 

  • Development of schedule of experts 'visits
  • Data collection for organisation of the visit (provided by IKVD, information supplied by HEI);
  • Informational seminars for the representatives of the HEI on the Project and the data to be collected within its framework;

 

 

 

1.Stages of the evaluation process

 

    • The pre-visit stage (provided by AIKNC):
  • collection and analysis of available information;
  • passing of the decision regarding the necessity of a site visit of the Evaluation Commission at the HEI for evaluation of every SP and receiving the approval from the project management (see Appendix 5);
  • development of a preliminary report, including formulation of questions for the visit at the HEI if needed;
  • development of the plan for the visit;
  • a training seminar for the experts and further development of the plan for site visits;
    • informational training seminar for the experts (a day before the visit), with instructions regarding evaluation of SPs and their organisation;
    • visit to the HEI (experts of which at least two are from abroad  and at least one from Latvia) – 1-2 days at every HEI (provided by the AIP) (see Appendices 1 and 2):
  • meeting the HEI administration (a short presentation, answers to experts' questions received beforehand, agreement on opportunities to get acquainted with the HEI documents);
  • meeting with the academic and technical staff of the HEI;
  • meeting with the employers, students, graduates (the meeting with students shall be organised without the presence of administration, the other meetings may be joint – according to the needs);
  • evaluation of resources;
  • getting acquainted with the HEI's documents;
  • getting acquainted with the results of the HEI's scientific and artistic creative work;
  • discussing the Evaluation Commission's reports;
  • the final meeting with the representatives of the HEI, answers to the additional experts' questions;
  • development of the Evaluation Commission's report on the HEI;
    • the final meeting of the Evaluation Commission and formulation of the report on all evaluated programmes, on directions in every HEI and the direction on national level (see Appendices 3 and 4).

 

2. Stages of the development of the evaluation

      • Development of the preliminary report based on the information available before the visit to the HEI (information sources for the experts):
  • EC directives and international agreements, LR laws, regulations of the LR Cabinet of Ministers, requirements for the regulated professions, the respective higher education standards and profession standards for vocational programmes, „Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area” (ESG) developed by European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) (SP must comply with the normative acts of the  LR; in case of difficulties in application of the normative acts an evaluation shall be requested from IKVD or a similar body);
  • data collected by IKVD and indicators on the HEI and its SPs,
  • annual self-assessment reports and the appended documents (plan of the study direction and its SPs, course descriptions, academic staff CVs, diploma works, exams, student questionnaires, etc.);
  • reports submitted by the HEI (approx. 20 pp., in English, on each SP);
  • informational reviews prepared by AIKNC, information sites, etc.;
  • formulation of expert's additional questions if necessary (the answers to the additional questions are to be obtained right during the visit or before it).

 

      • development of the report:
  • Filling out the questionnaire regarding each SP (during the visit to the HEI);
  • Development of the joint reports of the Evaluation Commission's experts regarding each SP or direction at each HEI, the direction on the national level, including development of evaluations and recommendations (experts' recommendations on improvement of exportability and competitiveness, on assurance of sustainability and quality, on efficient use of resources, reduction of overlapping);
  • discussion and approval of all NK experts' final reports for all evaluated study programmes, directions within the HEI and on the national level.

 

5. Evaluation methods

 

The basic principles of evaluation

  • The evaluation is performed in two stages: the basic and summarising ones:
  • the basic evaluation employs 4 point range system;
  • the summarising evaluation employs 5 point range system;
  • The evaluation uses data and indicators (In the first place – the indicators collected by the IKVD, given in the Questionnaire at the respective criterion) on information previously submitted by the HEI and collected during the visit to the HEI.

 

Evaluation stages

Evaluation stage 1 (basic or individual evaluation):

  • each expert performs individually based on information available both prior to the visit to the HEI and during the visit;
  • evaluation is done within 4 point range on each evaluation criterion included in the Questionnaire;
  • the developed 4 point description levels are observed:

4

In the context of the criterion being evaluated, the study programme is at an excellent level. The performance is characterised by all evaluated items (within the particular criterion) receiving an “excellent” mark. Still even at this highest level, several minor deficiencies may be observed in the context of the criterion evaluated, but no major improvement is required to eliminate such deficiencies.

3

In the context of the criterion being evaluated, the study programme is at a good level and meets all of the requirements, with its strengths prevailing and no material weaknesses observed. All the deficiencies discovered during the evaluation can be eliminated easily.

2

In the context of the criterion being evaluated, the study programme is at a satisfactory level and meets the minimum requirements. The performance is characterised by a relatively high proportion of deficiencies including several material deficiencies within the respective indicator, although in general the strengths of the programme still prevail. Elimination of the deficiencies discovered requires carefully planned long-term efforts as well as support from the stakeholders, and additional resources.

1

In the context of the criterion being evaluated, the study programme does not reach a satisfactory level, with material deficiencies expressly prevailing. Immediate improvement is necessary, also including the involvement of other stakeholders and additional resources.

Evaluation Commission's additional evaluation of the study programme can add 0; 0.5; 1.0; 1.5 or 2.0 points, providing detailed explanation of this.

Evaluation stage 2 (summarising or experts group's evaluation):

  • performed by the expert (2-4) that have directly participated iin the visit to the HEI, in collaboration with the representatives of LSA and LDDK, upon the visit to the HEI;
  • evaluation uses and is based on the results from the stage 1 evaluation by each expert provided in the Questionnaire (4 point range), creating a summary evaluation within each of the four evaluation groups, based on the joint evaluation 5 point range:

5

At least 90% of the criteria of the evaluation group have received “excellent” (4) mark, not more than 10% of criteria have received the mark “good” (3)

4

At least 70% of the evaluation group’s criteria have received “excellent” (4) mark, not more than 30% of the criteria have lower evaluation results (3 points; rating of not more than 10% of the criteria at 2 points is acceptable)

3

At least 70% of the evaluation group’s criteria have received “excellent” (4) or “good” (3) mark, not more than 30% of the criteria have lower evaluation results (2 points; rating of not more than 10% of the criteria at 1 point is acceptable)

2

At least 70% of the evaluation group’s criteria have received “excellent” (4), “good” (3), or “satisfactory” (2) mark, not more than 30% of  the criteria have lower evaluation results (1 point)

1

The evaluation results of the evaluation group’s criteria do not allow any higher evaluation.

  •  all the experts of the respective direction take part in the summarising stage of the evaluation, along with the representatives of LSA and LDDK;
  • all experts as well as the representatives of LSA and LDDK create the final report recommendations for each study programme.

 

Filling out the questionnaire

For differentiated recommendations for evaluation of each criterion of the Questionnaire within the 4 point range see section 10 “Recommendations for preparation of the reports and filling out the questionnaires” and Appendix 6.

 

Creation of recommen-dations

Step 1.

  • Each expert individually filling out the Questionnaire develops the possible recommendations, paying special attention to evaluation groups Sustainability and Cooperation, overlapping, as well as competitiveness and exportability problems in all evaluation groups;
  • 5 or more experts having visited the respective HEI develop the summarising evaluation (5 point system) for each SP in the respective HEI;

Step 2

  • All of the experts having evaluated the direction develop 3-10 recommendations and write reports on the direction in each HEI, indicating (see Appendix 3):
  • Strengths in general;
  • Threats to the programme's implementation in general;
  • Evaluation of competitiveness and exportability;
  • Recommendations for provision of sustainability and cooperation and quality improvement;
  • All experts having evaluated the respective direction develop 3-10 recommendations and write reports on the direction in on the national level, indicating:
  • Strengths in general;
  • Threats to the programme's implementation in general;
  • Evaluationof competitiveness and exportability;
  • Recommendations for provision of sustainability and cooperation and quality improvement

Step 3

  • Division of the evaluated study programmes into two groups:
  • SP in „no-risk zone”;
  • SP in „risk zone”.

 

The points awarded in total :

 

 

 

No-riske zone

Risk zone

 

 

 

20 – 15* points

14 and less points

 

 

 

*15 pointa are 75% of  maximum, i.e. 20 points

 

 

 

 

 

3rd and 4th  evaluation group:

For these evaluation groups the minimum received number of points shall be 3/2 in order to be excluded/included in the risk zone (whatever the total number of points).

6. Recommendations for the flow of the evaluation process and evaluation

If a decision is taken regarding a visit to a HEI for evaluation of a particular SP of a particular direction, at least 3 days prior to the visit the NK sends the HEI questions for discussions with the:

  • students;
  • representatives of the graduates;
  • academic staff;
  • administration;
  • technical staff;
  • representatives of employers.

(The meeting with the students shall be organised without the presence of administration, other meetings may be joint – according to the needs);
During the NK's visit to the HEI usually the implementation of all SPs of a single study direction shall be evaluated (usually during 1 day). (All experts have the right and duty to take part in the work of the NK, they are not obliged but have the right to submit an individual report on their participation.)
NK develops and submits to AIP reports on every SP and study direction in general in every HEI and a summary report on the particular study direction in Latvia within 2 weeks upon the completion of the visit. Regarding an interdisciplinary SP the respective NKs develop and submit to AIP harmonised joint additional reports that are added to the summary reports on the respective study directions, especially evaluating the issue of SP overlapping.
The Project management acquaints itself with the annual self-assessment reports of the HEI, data and indicators, NK reports, receives the additional information from the representatives of the HEI and within 2 weeks develops a draft report on the study direction, which is then sent to all HEIs included in the study direction.
Within 1 week from sending out the report the HEI shall supply information to AIP regarding factual errors in data and and facts.
Upon discussing the received responses and an open discussion AIP passes a decision on sending the final versions to IZM and its publication within 2 weeks.

7. Formation of evaluation commissions

A single NK may evaluate several study directions. In complicated cases (numerous SPs) a single study direction may be evaluated by a NK consisting of several expert groups with partially overlapping composition. It is advisable to include five experts in every expert group evaluating a single HEI (two of those being foreign). The summarising report on the particular study direction in Latvia in such a case is developed by all the involved experts jointly.
Upon a recommendation by AIKNC experts for evaluation of study direction are approved by AIP. The experts are approved following their competency, which is evaluated mainly judging by the expert's CV (a more detailed description in the Regulations (quoted in the Appendix 7), as well as AIKNC document „The Choice of Experts for Higher Education Institution and Higher Education Programme Evaluation Commissions”).
Pursuant the Regulation, also representatives of LSA and LDDK rake part in the NK: at least one representative of LSA and one representative of potential employers recommended by LDDK, in case they are delegated. Altogether the NK usually consists of 5 experts, but in case of vast amount of work (numerous SPs, numerous HEIs and their branches) the number of experts may be increased to 15-25.
AIKNC coordinates the work of the experts, consults the experts, including organisation of discussion and/or meetings with the experts during which:

  • agreement is reached with the experts regarding the most appropriate time for the visits;
  • the experts are provided with the information regarding the study direction to be evaluated and the HEIs and SPs included in it (usually these are links to the AIKNC website, where the self-assessment reports are published, as well as other additional information made available);
  • approximately a month before the visits a draft schedule of visits approved by the HEIs involved is sent out, which the experts are entitled to change in order to achieve maximum efficiency in organisation of study process analysis and preparation of recommendations for improvement and development of studies.
8. Information sources for the experts and organisation of evaluation process

When evaluating a programme the expert has the role of an experienced peer or advisor. The expert shall provide an evaluation, discuss problems, provide recommendations for improvement (see Appendix 1).
The division of labour is set among the NK experts, with the head (from abroad) taking the responsibility for the organisation of the evaluation, while one expert (from Latvia) takes the responsibility for creation of the report (rapporteur). NK deputy head (from abroad) follows the observance of study programme content and result evaluation methods and their harmonisation with the requirements.
NK head takes the decision regarding division of an NK into separate groups in case there are numerous SPs within a direction and/or numerous HEIs, and divides the SPs to be evaluated so that at least one expert gets acquainted in detail with all materials submitted regarding the SP. In case the visits and/or experts' work takes place in parallel – simultaneously in several places – the head organises summarising of the results and creation of a harmonised evaluation of each SP or HEI and the direction as a whole.

            The following information sources shall be taken into account during the evaluation:

  • EC directives and international agreements, laws of LR, regulations of the LR Cabinet of Ministers, requirements for the regulated professions, the respective higher education standards and professional standards for vocational programmes, „Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area” (ESG) developed by European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) (SP must comply with the normative acts of the LR; in case of difficulties in application of the normative acts an evaluation shall be requested from IKVD or a similar body);
  • Data and indicators collected by IKVD regarding the HEI, annual self-assessment reports and the appended documents (plan of the study direction and its SPs, course descriptions, academic staff CVs, diploma works, exams, student questionnaires, etc.); information collected during the visit (the facilities, informational and material and technical resources available for the implementation of the programme, meetings with the students, graduates, administration, employers, the academic and general staff, etc.);
  • methodological recommendations: requirements for NK reports and the prepared questionnaires (see Appendices2-4).
9. Visits and reports of evaluation commissions

Prior to the visit AIKNC organises a meeting with the NK in order to discuss the evaluation-related issues. Development of visit schedule and its adjustment is a matter of agreement between HEI, NK and AIKNC. A usual visit includes:

  • presentation of a direction and its SPs;
  • meeting with the administration, students, academic and general (technical) staff, graduates, potential employers;
  • study of facilities, material, technical and informational basis, including a visit to the library, HEI's documents;
  • getting acquainted with the results of HEI's scientific and artistic creative work;
  • at the conclusion of the visit discussion of the NK experts' suggestions, recommendations and evaluation with the administration and of the staff shall be planned HEI, during which the representatives of the HEI provide more exact answers to the experts' questions.

NK rapporteur is responsible for the summarising of the experts' opinions and preparation of the joint report. All NK experts participate in the development of the joint report. NK visits are planned to all HEIs fro evaluation of all study directions. NK visit for evaluation of an SP is not necessary when the SP's quality (according to the indicators approved by AIP) is sufficiently high and the NK decides not to organise a visit for evaluation of the respective SP.
NK submits its reports to AIP – both as signed hardcopy documents and in electronic form sending them to the e-mail address aip@latnet.lv.

 

10. Recommendations for preparation of reports and filling out the questionnaires

When filling out questionnaires and writing reports the experts shall take into account the recommendations developed for the European Higher Education area quality evaluation  systems (see, for example http://www.aiknc.lv/static_media/dati/materiali/LV/Macibu%20programma.pdf, Appendices 1-4). The aim of study direction evaluation is higher education quality assurance, study programme improvement, increase of exportability.
Bearing in mind that quality is compliance with the aim, the experts when evaluating 1.1.1., 2.1.1., 4.1.1. and other similar shall study the relationship between HEI's and SP's mission (vision), strategic (long-term), medium term and short-term aims and tasks, compliance of study results (or learning outcomes) with the aims and the perspective requirements. The aims and learning outcomes shall be compared for all HEIs and all SPs to be evaluated within the respective study direction, preparing recommendations on opportunities of cooperation both in Latvia and abroad, on perspective directions of development, involving foreign students and academic staff.
When evaluating competitiveness and exportability (4.2.7., 4.2.8., etc.), the opportunities to use not only the English language but also other languages, mostly those traditionally related to Latvia shall be reviewed (it is permissible in some cases, as HEI proves that it implements teaching staff mobility projects with the respective countries, as well as that the teaching staff have prepared publications in the indicated languages). The use of virtual space, e-learning, distance learning, use of the Internet in efficient organisation of mobility and cooperation shall be supported.
Employment and employment opportunities (2.2.2., etc.) pursuing the Bologna process recommendations shall also be evaluated in relation to academic programmes though using an appropriate context and requirements. The practical training shall be oriented towards future opportunities, not only the requirements or today. Where possible, the achieved results shall be studied, supporting diversity in ways for achieving the aims. The information regarding the application of previously received recommendations shall be evaluated.
Much attention shall be paid to the support of excellence, attainment of world-level results (4.3.1., 4.4.1., etc.). Cooperation with the representatives from HEIs and SPs having exceeded the average level of Latvia (and world) shall be recommended, evaluated and especially supported, the experts shall organise mutually beneficial cooperation between SPs and HEIs aimed at speeding up the development. The experts shall provide evaluation on the level of overlapping of similar study programmes at the moment being and the future trends of such, mainly evaluating the opportunities for joining the resources and strengthening the cooperation of similar study programmes in perspective directions, using some common study programme development mechanism.

11. Financial and practical issues

The experts from abroad (the head of the commission and the deputy head) shall be remunerated for participation in the work of the NK by AIP at the amount of 211 EUR a day, pursuant the paragraph 39.4. of the Regulation.
The experts from Latvia shall be remunerated by AIP for all their evaluation -related expenses (accommodation and transport, including fuel expenses) and a contract shall be signed. The payment for the participation in the work of NK for the experts from  Latvia is set at approximately 7 Ls an hour, for representatives of LDDK and LSA – 3 Ls an hour.

12. Approval of study programme evaluation results

There are the following opportunities for approval of study programme evaluation results:

  • the report developed by the experts is approved by the HEI;
  • In case the HEI has objections towards the report developed by the experts, its representatives have the right to participate at the Project's Government Committee sitting where the respective report is approved;
  • In case the HEI has material objections towards the report developed by the experts it has the right to formulate its own opinion that is added as an appendix to the report and submitted to the LR Ministry of Education and Science.

Appendix 1

Recommendations for efficient experts' work methods

The activities of the experts shall be focused on collection of such information that either directly or indirectly proves (or refutes) the statements included in the HEI's self-assessment report. Such information includes the following:

  • HEI strategy, study plans, expected learning outcomes,
  • existence of a quality assurance system within the HEI and its operational principles,
  • prerequisites of learning-study process (study environment, equipment, accessibility),
  • study methods (academic culture, the level of democracy of the forms of communication, rationality of planning, study works),
  • evaluation of the HEI's importance within the regional and national (Latvia's) aspect.

Within such an approach the opinions of experts connects the data expressed in clear numbers (e.g. the amount of finances, numbers of teaching staff and students, available area per student, number of buildings, computers, printed media, etc.) and information on HEI's intentions (study plans, strategies, statements and conclusions regarding methods, etc.) with the observations by experts (performed during the visit) regarding the institution's ability to assess its activities with self-criticism, the credibility of plans and the ability of the academic units to collaborate in improvement of study process . Continuous operation of HEI's internal quality assurance system is necessary, as no HEI can retain positive orientation in long-term without targeted improvements.
The general aims of the programme (or strategy) shall be assessed by its compliance to levels of qualification frameworks. Nevertheless the attainability of the general aims can only be assessed by comparing the aims of the first cycle to those of the second or second to third respectively, not by viewing every programme separately.

A well-developed system of criteria has the following features in its definitions:

  • harmonisation with the requirements of the respective study cycle,
  • adaptation to the character of the study branch,
  • legitimacy – which of the HEI's collective administration institutions have developed, reviewed, backed and approved the definitions.

A typical tendency of poorly developed study programmes is to increase the level of competencies to be achieved within the first cycle as well as their number, that directly indicates lack of understanding of gradual evolution of competencies in the study process and a poorly developed system of criteria. For example the programmes of art direction display a tendency to substitute the analysis of art study quality by quality assessment of ‘finished work’ - this is the approach formed by the idea of well performed work as an object that (seemingly) accumulates all knowledge and skills acquired in the study process. It must be emphasised that in visual art and design (because of the branch's diverse forms and individual aims) it is rather complicated to define the qualitative difference of skills to be demonstrated by a Bachelor's work from those to be demonstrate in a Master's work. In order to avoid pointless comparison of a ‘good work’ with a ‘better work’ the study object shall be changed – instead of research of a programme's final work or ‘product’ the study programme's structure, dynamics of the process and the observance of the students individual interests shall be considered – the values that constant;y and in long-term ensure successful implementation of study aims and tasks. On the other hand  the ‘finished work’ are more of a testimony to HEI's ideological orientation, traditions and the prevailing stylistics.
Clear definitions of competence levels and adaptation of qualification framework's principles for the specific needs of the branch are the basic conditions without fulfilment of which it is impossible to provide a systemic evaluation of the planned results of each study cycle programmes and their corresponding study process, at the same time avoiding the attribution of qualities of a single work (or art phenomenon) to the competencies acquired over the whole study period.
The greatest importance still is attributed to the study process organisations and study subject thematic logics, as well as cooperation of all individuals involved in the process, firstly, in achievement of professional and individual aims of each student and, secondly, performance of tasks of artistic creation and/or the scientific ones. All the listed directions of activities, being basically individual, in case of successful implementation lead to an efficiently functioning academic environment. It is the purposefulness of the process, its flexibility and ideological tolerance – those are the factors ensuring the necessary prerequisites necessary for art studies.

Study of functioning of a HEI's internal quality assurance system

Studying the functioning of HEI's internal quality assurance system, it is advisable to focus the questions at the interviews with the HEI's administration, academic staff and student on the following:

  • the extent of the quality system within the HEI,
  • really functioning mechanisms for continuous quality assurance.

These are indicators of the programme's quality of essential importance, logically linking the general programme aims and tasks with the academic or professional value systems and teaching methods employed by the HEI. These ‘academic instruments’ may be not clearly described in the self-assessment reports due to their functional diversity and notional capacity. Therefore the data academic processes acquired during the interviews may provide much important information on the following characteristics:

  • sustainability and stability of the academic methods, including the level of HEI's staff awareness of the necessity of quality processes,
  • HEI intellectual resources, including the preparedness of the academic staff for critical self-assessment,
  • institutional policy type that either support or limits continuous revisions and improvement to study process,
  • involvement of students in formation of study work and observance of interests,
  • content specifics of the programme and the uniqueness of study process organisation,
  • links of quality evaluation structure with the HEI's strategy and evaluation  criteria.

The task of the experts is to find out whether a continuously functioning quality assurance system is persistently introduced at all academic levels – from the decision-making collective institutions to units performing individual academic tasks. In order to answer these questions the organisation levels of the academic work shall be found out and studied (distribution of initiative rights and duties) as well as their functions – each level must be aware of its responsibility for some particular quality maintenance and improvement tasks. For example attribution of study work evaluation criteria falls mainly within the responsibility sphere of lecturers or their groups. At the same time assessment of planned knowledge acquired in the study process and study results formed by skills (knowledge, skills, competencies - learning outcomes) to a full extent is only possible in in a wider professional-academic context, where at least three academic units communicate their opinions and, the participation of social partners (by either being present or otherwise) is desirable. Development of quality assurance and development policy on the highest institutional level is the responsibility of the HEI's unit of academic representatives, the decisions approved by this body shall be directly submitted for approval to the administrative institutions. HEI must have at least three quality control levels active, in growing sequence:

  • study programme (including chair /professor's group /master workshop/ masterclass or similar),
  • direction within the HEI (including faculty /department or similar),
  • HEI in general (active study council/academic council or similar).

The greatest attention shall be paid to the information level of administration, lecturers and students regarding the existence of the quality evaluation system and their understanding of application of evaluation criteria – regarding the evaluation methods. The understanding of the students regarding the adequateness of the employed criteria not only indicates satisfaction with the received evaluation and feedback, but also the quality of the very study process organisation (are the aims and criteria explained when starting the particular study course) and the level to which the lecturers communicate the competencies to be acquired in a study process to students. In case of positive implementation such explanatory work shall unavoidably (as competencies cannot be only explained within the limits of a single study subject) connect the competencies of every single study course with those of others, prior, parallel or consecutive courses, thus creating wider relationships between study subject groups or on the contrary – emphasises the lack of holistic system. Understanding of criteria provides the students with relative opportunity to survey the study process – therefore forms a group of issues as clear and available for critical analysis as possible.

Recommendations for organisation of a visit

  • It is advisable to organise the interviews at the HEI in a sequence that would allow the experts possibly quickly gain full insight into the study work – this means that the demonstrations of study environment (auditoria, workshops, library, laboratories) and presentations of study works shall be organised not later as immediately after the interview with the representatives of the programme management and before the meeting with the students – the experts must have time to get acquainted with the samples of study work from the last 3 years and the  programme final work (bound texts), in order to understand the academic methods characteristic to the respective HEI.

 

  • Each interview (but especially the one with the students) shall be started with an address briefly explaining the main aim of the examination – to improve the study quality. In the conclusion the interviewees shall be given the opportunity to express their opinions freely.
  • Standardised sets of questions shall be developed for each group of interviewees; the questions may be modified, retaining the thematic trend. These sets shall be used at all HEIs, in order to obtain comparable information.

 

  • It is desirable to submit to the HEI a general summary of questions expected at the interview one to two days before the visit, to allow the interpretors to prepare (specific terminology, that might be less known to the interpretors) and so that the academic staff could concentrate on discussion of certain topics.
  • During the meeting with the students it is advisable to differentiate the Bachelor's degree students from those of Master's degree, as in the opposite case the experts' work will be slowed down and it is difficult to systematise the information after the interview.

 

  • The interviews shall only be conducted in English. Parallel use of two foreign languages can result in additional inaccuracies in translation and also waste of time – reaching at least additional 20%.

Suggested questions

For all groups of interviewees:

  • What changes have been made to the programme since its last accreditation or during the last three years?
  • How is it established whether the programme's aims and its planned results meet the current requirements of the branch and the requirements of its future development?
  • How the planned study results coincide with the evaluation criteria system?
  • Has the programme's content been compared to other programmes of similar content abroad?
  • Is there anything you specially like to inform the experts about?

 

For administration and lecturers:

  • How are HEI's strategy, aims and tasks reflected in the description of the planned study results?
  • What are the recent improvements to quality assurance and improvement system?
  • Do the academic units have their own quality assurance methods and principles?
  • How is programme's supervision performed? What happens when a deviation from the approved programme plan is found?
  • With which groups of professional, academic or social partners there have been consultations regarding the development of the programme? How the information is summarised? What mechanisms are in place in the HEI to respond to the recommendations of partners?
  • How does HEI ensure the satisfaction of the financial demands of its units?
  • How is the continuing education of the academic staff ensured? How is creative and research activity stimulated and supported?
  • Are the lecturers and students involved in international conferences and seminars on issues of education, creativity and research?
  • Is the academic staff informed and prepared for continuous participation in supervision of quality processes?
  • How are the academic staff and students involved in renewal of study programme's content and methods?
  • How is the social support provided for the students?

For students:

  • Does the programme content and learning quality correspond to the previously acquired idea of the HEI? Do the students receive the education they expected during the studies?
  • What was the cause for your interest in the programme before enrolling? Was it friends, information from the Internet, information supplied by the HEI?
  • In what a form the explanation of the planned learning outcomes, course descriptions and evaluation criteria are available to students: are they prints, manuals, information on the HEI's website?
  • How does the HEI support the individual study projects of the students?
  • What are the opportunities to participate in international cooperation programmes?
  • How satisfied are the students with opportunities to choose the lecturers? How important is the participation of foreign guest lecturers in the study process?
  • How is the exchange of opinions conducted with lecturers and administration  - in person, via the Internet, in written form?
  • How does the HEI help its students to form their professional or academic career?

Appendix 2

QUESTIONNAIRE

FOR THE EXPERTS OF THE EVALUATION COMMISSION
for evaluation of a higher education institutions branch and its study programmes

 

Evaluation commission's joint report on the SP shall be supplemented by a questionnaire on the SP's functioning in each branch, where it is implemented. For each question of the questionnaire there must be a mark given within a 4 point range together with a textual comment which is a compulsory requirement. (The mark mainly characterises the compliance of implementation to the set aims and tasks.) It is advisable to pay special attention to recommendations on development and cooperation with other SPs and HEIs in the next 6 years providing a brief comment on each question, describing the following: the discovered positive factors, strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) as well as recommendations for development. The evaluation scale is the following: 4 (excellent), 3 (good), 2 (satisfactory), 1 (unsatisfactory).

Expert's name:
The name of the evaluated higher education institution:
Date of the expert's external evaluation visit:

Criteria for evaluation of a higher education institution's branch and its study programme

(6 questions)
  • Compliance of the branch's activities with the legislative acts of Latvia. Availability of documentation on the branch:
  1. statement of policy and aims,
  2. description of the administrative structure,
  3. descriptions of aims and content of particular programmes, courses and other educational services.

 

Clarity of the description of both the branch's and the respective higher education institution's responsibility. Control and supervision by the higher education institution over the information that is published by its branch. Existence of legally binding documents that clearly define the role of the higher education institution and its branch, their responsibility, delegated powers and the procedure of supervision.
Mark: .........
Comment: .........

  • Compliance of the academic quality and standards of the branch with the following:
  1. common requirements within the higher education institution;
  2. requirements in analogical programmes and higher education institutions in Latvia.

Clarity of the study quality assurance mechanisms in the respective branch.

Mark: .........
Comment: .........

  • Compliance of the qualifications, teaching, scientific activity and other professional experience of the academic staff teaching at the branch with the requirements in force in Latvia. Effectiveness of control (organised by the higher education institution) over the competency of the staff teaching at the branch.

Mark: .........
Comment: .........

  • Responsibility of the higher education institution for the qualifications (degrees, diplomas, professional qualifications) that it awards upon graduation from the branch. Clarity and transparency of the information on the qualifications awarded, using the European united Diploma Supplement. Availability of information on character, duration, study load of the study programme as a result of graduation from which the qualification is awarded, programme's location and language (-es) in the Diploma Supplement.

Mark: .........
Comment: .........

  • Compliance of admission requirements, study activities, examination and evaluation requirements in the branch with those characteristic for the respective higher education institution. Clarity of instructions in programme descriptions of the modifications to the study programme exclusively specific to the branch.

Mark: .........
Comment: .........

  • Compliance of the academic study load in the respective programme in the very higher education institution. Validity of the differences and clarity of description in documents of the study programme implemented at the branch.

Mark: .........
Comment: .........

Appendix 3
The joint report of the expert commission
(on a direction in a HEI)

(AIP determines the structure of the following joint reports. The report shall supplemented by a filled out questionnaire with comments and marks. The experts shall use the „Recommendations of the European Parliament and Council on Development of a European Framework for Lifelong Learning” (approved in Strasbourg, 23 April 2008), „Recommendations of the European Parliament and Council on Future European Cooperation in Higher Education Quality Assurance” (15 February 2006), recommendations of Bologna process, including the document developed by ENQA  „Standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the European higher education area” (ESG) and recommendations for harmonisation of requirements (Tuning Process: http://tuning.unideusto.org/tuningeu/), ERASMUS programme project results and recommendations.)

General data:
higher education institution (or college) (study programmes):
date of visit:
staff of the evaluation commissions:

Information sources
The documents received prior to the visit (their layout, exactness, sufficiency of information on use of previously received recommendations)
Meetings during the visit (their usefulness)
The documents received during the visit (their availability, conformity of layout to users' requirements)
The documents received after the visit (conformity of improvements done after the visit with the recommendations)
Provision of meetings or communication of other type after the visit (understanding of the representatives of the higher education institution (college) of solution of the problem)

Analysis of the situation
(Ambiguities and inconsistencies (between the information received and the actual conditions).)
(Evaluation of the self-assessment performed by the higher education institution (college).)
(Evaluation of use of the recommendations previously received by the the higher education institution, college or study programme.)
(List of development opportunities of the higher education institution, college or study programme.)
(Analysis of ways for elimination of hindering, negative factors. Overcoming of the existing hardships, probability of finding new, innovative ways and the possible planning.)
(The experts' analysis and recommendations for the work of the higher education institution (or college), experts' recommendations on increase of exportability and competitiveness, ensuring of sustainability and quality assurance, on efficient use of resources, reduction of overlapping.)

Conclusions
(Compliance with ESG requirements.)
(Possibility of constructive, sustainable solutions and the help necessary for their implementation.)

Recommendations
(The recommended measures, mandatory tasks to solve and the possible time and ways of check-up.)

[Place, date]

[Signature / name]

 

Appendix 4
The joint report of the expert commission
on direction on the national level

(AIP determines the structure of the following joint reports. The report shall supplemented by a filled out questionnaire with comments and marks. The experts shall use the „Recommendations of the European Parliament and Council on Development of a European Framework for Lifelong Learning” (approved in Strasbourg, 23 April 2008), „Recommendations of the European Parliament and Council on Future European Cooperation in Higher Education Quality Assurance” (15 February 2006), recommendations of Bologna process, including the document developed by ENQA  „Standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the European higher education area” (ESG) and recommendations for harmonisation of requirements (Tuning Process: http://tuning.unideusto.org/tuningeu/), ERASMUS programme project results and recommendations.)

General data:
visited higher education institutions and colleges (study programmes):
dates of visits:
staff of the evaluation commissions:

Information sources
The documents received prior to the visit (their layout, exactness, sufficiency of information on use of previously received recommendations)
Meetings during the visits (their usefulness)
The documents received during the visits (their availability, conformity of layout to users' requirements)
The documents received after the visits (conformity of improvements performed after the visits with the recommendations)
            Provision of meetings or communication of other type after the visit (understanding of the representatives of the higher education institutions (colleges) of solution of the problem)

Analysis of the situation
(Ambiguities and inconsistencies (between the information received and the actual conditions).)
(Evaluation of the self-assessment performed by the higher education institution (college).)
(List of development opportunities of the higher education institutions, and colleges.)
(Analysis of ways for elimination of hindering, negative factors. Overcoming of the existing hardships, probability of finding new, innovative ways and the possible planning.)

(The experts' analysis and recommendations for the work of the higher education institution (or college), experts' recommendations on increase of exportability and competitiveness, ensuring of sustainability and quality assurance, on efficient use of resources, reduction of overlapping.)

Conclusions
(Compliance with ESG requirements.)
(Possibility of constructive, sustainable solutions and the help necessary for their implementation.)

Recommendations
(The recommended measures, mandatory tasks to solve and the possible time and ways of check-up.)

[Place, date]

[Signature / name]

 

Appendix 5

Recommendations for experts in determining the necessity of a site visit
(for evaluation of study programme of one direction in a single HEI)

The experts of an Evaluation commission of a single study direction are not authorised to submit proposals to evaluate the study programmes (SP) of a single study direction without the site visit of experts at the higher education institution (HEI), when the implementation of the respective direction to be evaluated or some SP within the direction is characterised by at least one of the indicators listed below.
In case the site visit to a HEI is only necessary for evaluation of a SP of the respective direction, then during the visit the other SPs of the respective direction may be not evaluated. In case two or more SPs of the same direction must be evaluated during the visit to an HEI, then at the same visit to the HEI also all other SPs of the respective direction must be evaluated.
The indicators:

  • During the last three years, compared to the basis year, the reduction in the number of students within the SP exceeds 30% (for example when evaluating the number of students in 2011/2012 acad. year the basis year is 2008/2009).
  • At the HEI within the direction to be evaluated there are no SPs of two consecutive higher education qualification levels (6th and 7th level or 7th and 8th level SPs (according to European Qualification Framework - EQF) or SPs of two consecutive cycles as stipulated by the Bologna process).
  • In the respective direction less than 80% students are studying within SPs accredited for a six year period.
  • During some year after the latest accreditation no self-assessment report of the HEI regarding the SP has been prepared and approved.
  • Some of the recommendations for SP’s quality improvement received during the latest accreditation process has been neglected or HEI has acted in serious breach of vital regulations (according to the information of the State Education Quality Service (Izglītības kvalitātes valsts dienests – IKVD)).
  • Summarising the preliminary (pre-visit) evaluation of all criteria performed by the experts on the basis of documents and data (indicators), agreed upon by all experts (including communication over electronic means), at least one of the conditions below is fulfilled:
    •  the average evaluation of criteria of the SP is below 3; or
  •  more than five criteria receive the mark of 2; or
  •  some of the criteria receive the mark of 1.

For academic programmes the average mark for the aspect 5 („Scientific research (creative) work of the staff and students”) must not be below 3.
The final decision on evaluation of a single study direction SP without the site visit of experts at the HEI is passed by the experts of the Evaluation commission of the respective direction, on the basis of information supplied by the HEI and IKVD. In case there is no agreement among the experts, the approval of the Higher Education Council is necessary.

Appendix 6

Recommended documents
for organisation of a study direction's evaluation

Evaluation tasks: (MK regulations No. 1058 (16.11.10.))
            report to IZM;
            recommendations for legislative acts (accreditation of study directions, etc.);
            reports of evaluation commissions on the SP and study direction.

Project management:
            approval of documents (including tasks and plans);
            coordination and funding of experts' work;
            information exchange.

Plans for visits to the HEI: (VK010811)
            sequence and duration (in days) of evaluation of all directions for evaluation of every direction;
            work directions and time-frame of all experts' work;
            dates of visits to all HEIs and their branches.

Agreements on visits:
            foreign experts;
            rapporteur;
            representative of LSA;
            representative of LDDK;
            HEI.

Information on experts(CV, contacts):
            foreign experts;
            rapporteur;
            representative of LSA;
            representative of LDDK.

Guidelines for experts:
            evaluation commission in general;
            head;
            rapporteur;
            expert;
            representative of LSA;
            representative of LDDK.

Requirements for reports:
            on SP;
            on a direction in a HEI;
            on a direction in Latvia.

Criteria and questionnaires, their use:
            for an SP;
            for a branch.

Criteria for evaluation of an SP without a visit

Criteria for evaluation of directions

Indicators and their applicability

Sample plan of a visit

Structure of interviews:
            with administration;
            with academic staff;
            with general staff;
            with students;
            with graduates;
            with employers.

Expert training plans:
foreign experts;
            rapporteurs;
             representative of LSA;
            representative of LDDK.

Appendix 7

Requirements for experts
(excerpt from Regulations (MK No. 1058, 16.11.10.))

  • For evaluation of every study direction the party receiving the funding creates a group of experts. The group shall include Latvian experts as well as at least one representative of Latvian Student Union (LSA) whose level of education is appropriate for evaluation of the respective study programme, and a representative of Latvian Employer Confederation (LDDK), in case Latvian Student Union and Latvian Employer Confederation have delegated a representative, and at least one international expert from abroad who is experienced in study programme evaluation in the respective study directions. One of the representatives delegated by Latvian Student Union must be student of the highest level within the study programme to be evaluated.
  • The party receiving the funding must ensure selection of experts, preferably choosing experts meeting the following conditions:
    • the expert has a doctoral degree or holds the academic position of professor (associated professor) in the respective study direction;
    • the expert has the practical work experience of at least 10 years in the respective study direction;
    • the expert is experienced in Latvian study programme evaluation in the  respective study direction.
  • The party receiving funding shall ensure that when starting their work the  experts sign a statement asserting that there is no conflict of interest arising from their activities.
  • The expert being remunerated for implementation of the project activities shall not receive any payment from his principal employer for the time spent working for the project. For this time the expert shall fill-put the work time calculation schedule indicating how many hours have been spent implementing project activities.
  • The party receiving funding shall ensure application of common conditions  for grouping of study programmes by study directions and evaluation of study programme quality, their sufficiency of resources as well sustainability at all higher education institutions.

 

Appendix 8

Submission of information on study programmes in a HEI

The general aim of the experts' work while participating in the project is to improve the education available to students, to provide help in management and to improve the study process, its quality, and to make the functioning of the HEI more transparent and more comprehensible to all those involved.
The main principles in the evaluation process within the framework of the project  according to ESG are as follows:

  • HEI must take the main responsibility for the quality of its offer and ensuring of this quality;
  • the interests of the society in relation to the quality of higher education and its standards shall be protected;
  • the quality of higher education programmes has to be developed and improved in the interests of students and other receivers of higher education within the whole EHEA;
  • there have to be efficient organisational structures in place within the framework of which the higher education programmes can be implemented and supported;
  • transparency is important for the processes of evaluation and quality assurance;
  • the quality culture within HEIs shall be promoted;
  • control and reporting is fully compatible with necessities of the improvements;
  • HEI must be able to prove its quality both within its own country and internationally;
  • evaluation processes must not choke diversity and innovation.

The most important specific tasks of the project are as follows:

  • to submit proposals on development of joint study programmes in order to increase sustainability and to improve efficiency of resource use;
  • to indicate additional opportunities for placement of additional funding within the HEI;
  • to develop proposals for implementation of study direction accreditation;
  • to submit recommendations aimed at increase of sustainability and competitiveness (including exportability).

The main stages for participation of the HEI in the study direction evaluation  process are as follows:

  • HEI signs a collaboration agreement with the Higher Education Council (AIP) in order to organise evaluation of SPs by study directions;
  • HEI submits to the AIP's collaboration partner – State Education Quality Service(IKVD) data pursuant with a form developed by AIP;
  • HEI using its internal quality assurance system and annual self-assessment develops groups of reports on all study programmes of each direction.

HEI submits to AIP reports on each SP in each of directions represented in the HEI (approx. 20 pp., in English on each SP). In the reports the HEI provides the information necessary for evaluation of SP in accordance with the SP evaluation criteria developed by AIP. It is recommended for the HEI to refer to the latest publicly accessible self-assessment reports on its SPs (prepared during the last 5 years). In case the latest self-assessment report on an SP prepared in English is more than 5 years old or there is no such report, the new survey report developed by the HEI shall contain all of the necessary information (the amount may exceed 20 pp.).

 

Recommendations for preparation of information

When preparing information for the experts it is necessary to start with the statement of HEI's mission, strategic goals, future vision. The experts are colleagues from other countries and organisations willing to help the HEI in achievement of its goals, while the HEI must supply sufficient information on connection of the general aims and tasks with the HEI's particular activities, its results and known existing problems in achieving the aforementioned goals.
The task of the experts is the following:

  1. to get acquainted with the goals ans tasks set by the HEI for itself in case of necessity suggesting possible (desirable) corrections, while leaving the decision-making to the HEI;
  2. to evaluate the means chosen by the HEI for achievement of its goals and to provide recommendations for development of better and/or different solutions.

           
Within the framework of the ESF project the experts have an additional task to pay special attention to the functioning of the whole Latvian higher education system as a whole, finding additional opportunities, searching for hidden reserves for more successful functioning in the European Higher Education Area, comparing activities of different HEIs. Within the ESF project the attention from evaluation of one or several similar study programmes (according to the usual practice) is shifted to evaluation of the whole system, using a wider context, with wider use of diverse integral, quantitative indicators, less relying on personal contacts during the site visits.
The necessity to include the whole of the Latvian system places several restrictions on the experts' work that HEIs should take into account and help reduce the objective difficulties of the complicated experts' work.

  • The higher education in Latvia is divided in to 28 directions. The HEIs shall explain the inter-directional cooperation problems within the HEI, on national and international level.

 

  • The usual study programme evaluation criteria (currently 16 criteria and 6 main aspects) are divided into 4 groups (quality, resources, sustainability, cooperation), that while playing a subordinate role in the traditional quality evaluation, are of much higher importance within the project. The increased number of criteria (total of 62 within the project compared with those 16 criteria currently employed in Latvia for quality evaluation) facilitates simultaneous detailed analysis of many problems, though making it more difficult to synthesise, develop strategic assessments and recommendations. HEIs shall try not only to provide information for the analysis but also synthesis, study of the common strategy. It is advisable to avoid splitting the report into small fragments, trying to provide answers to each of the 62 criteria, but to integrate the report (the same as before) based on 6 aspects. It is advisable to pay more attention as currently to cooperation, sustainability and resources. Choosing 6 aspects as the basis for the report's structure, the chapters can organise it into 4 groups (quality, resources, sustainability, cooperation) or place some of them as subsection.
  • Describing several SPs of the same direction within a HEI it is advisable to group the information, combining data on several SPs, not repeating the same information. At the same time the differences between SP shall be clearly indicated, especially within a single level. It is advisable to form the descriptions of SPs of the same level (separating the levels No. 5, 6, 7, 8, pursuant the EQF) as consisting of a general part for each of the aspects and a problem group (quality, resources, sustainability, cooperation) within each aspect, supplementing them with a description of differences for each aspect and each problem group. Another option – to describe jointly a group of SPs, that have a planned succession in studies (for example B, M, Ph.D). In such a case it is desirable to follow the succession of studies by levels.

 

  • It is desirable to describe and analyse sustainability in connection with its relatively opposing factor - competitiveness (and its abroad-oriented factor  – exportability), as lowering of price in short term provides for increase in competitiveness on the free market while reducing the opportunities to invest in development and improvement of sustainability. The balance between the both tasks (sustainability and competitiveness) must be paid special attention.
  • Describing resource, as well as cooperation and sustainability it is important to show the relation of data on resources (and other data on the SP) with implementation of the SP. A qualified assessment of resources not possible without knowledge of the strategy for their use and the respective opportunities. In such a brief period of time it is rather difficult for the experts to assess the resources, when these are described separately, without relation to the functioning of the SP.

 

Within the framework of the project the information on each SP both prepared by the HEI and that collected by the experts during the site visit shall be sufficient for further use when reviewing the study direction's accreditation in accordance with the new regulations, that currently still are in the process of preparation. The new accreditation regulations will allow the use of the project's results, on the condition these results are of sufficiently high quality and including a sufficient number of SPs. (By the 1 September 2012 for all SPs accreditation is carried out according to the existing regulations and the decisions taken remain in force (up to 6 years – maximum until 2018): „32. ... In case a decision is taken to refuse accreditation of some HEI or college study direction the study programmes of this direction, accredited according to the legislative acts currently in force and the accreditation period exceeding the date of passing the aforementioned decision shall be deemed accredited until the end of the period indicated on the accreditation certificate of the study programme”. (Amendments to the Law on Higher Education Institutions))
SP remains as the main unit within a HEI for implementation of study process. The amendments to the Law on Higher Education Institutions stipulate annulment of licence of individual SPs or proposal to the HEI to close an SP within the framework of accreditation process of a direction, therefore for the purposes of accreditation by directions individual evaluation of each SP shall be used. For implementation of study direction accreditation process recommendations shall be developed on reviewing closing of a SP or annulment of its licence, evaluating study direction within a HEI. (The amendments to the Law on Higher Education Institutions: „Paragraph 55.3. Accredittation of a study direction... The higher education institution or college may also propose to close an individual study programme within the respective study direction. The licence of an individual study programme of the study direction in the respective higher education institution or college may be annulled.”

Within the framework of the project the information on each SP both prepared by the HEI and that collected by the experts during the site visit shall be sufficient for further use when reviewing the study direction's accreditation in accordance with the new regulations, that currently still are in the process of preparation. The new accreditation regulations will allow the use of the project's results, on the condition these results are of sufficiently high quality and including a sufficient number of SPs.

Each SP is evaluated as a whole, joining different modes and forms of implementation, including implementation branches. Site visits to all branches where the SP is implemented and/or it is planned to implement it shall be organised. Information on branches shall be given in the context with the rest of information on the SP, including a comparison with implementation at the „basis” location. The experts in a total, joint evaluation of SP shall also include the evaluation of the branches, therefore the information on each SP in every HEI branch shall be clear and comprehensible.

 

 

 
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