An example of a permanent evaluation process (assessment, monitoring, guarantee, maintenance and improvement) of the quality system of higher education, institutions and study programs in Croatia

Aktivnosti Hrvatske agencije za znanost i visoko obrazovanje (ASHE) pridonose usklađivanju hrvatskog visokog obrazovanja s europskim sustavima i njezinoj integraciji u europski prostor visokog obrazovanja, poboljšanje kvalitete studijskih programa i njihova dostava, povećanje mobilnosti , prepoznavanje i pouzdanost hrvatskih visokoškolskih kvalifikacija, poboljšati pristup osobama s inozemnim visokoškolskim kvalifikacijama na hrvatsko tržište rada i osigurati pravičan pristup hrvatskom visokom obrazovnom sustavu. ASHE doprinosi PHE na sljedeći način:

  • Očuvanje standarda i vjerodostojnost kvalifikacija;
  • Poboljšanje kvalitete visokog obrazovanja;
  • Širenje pouzdanih informacija o kvaliteti standarda studentima;
  • Poticanje jednakog pristupa visokom obrazovanju;
  • Kontinuirano praćenje učinkovitosti postojećih i razvoj novih alata i metoda unutarnjeg i vanjskog osiguranja kvalitete;
  • Poticanje suradnje i razmjene znanja i dobre prakse osiguranja kvalitete među institucijama u sustavu visokog obrazovanja i znanosti;
  • Uspoređivanje postignutih standarda i razine kvalitete s kvalitetom i standardima sličnih institucija u zemlji i EU;
  • Podrška i provedba Hrvatskog kvalifikacijskog okvira (HKO).

More Information

Impact

What was the challenge intended to be addressed? Why? What did work well? What did not work well? What have been the main achievements? How did you evaluate its success? What has been the change brought by this good practice?

Since the independence of the Republic of Croatia and until 2004, Croatia did not have a regulated system of quality assurance in the science and higher education, as well as standardized conditions for issuing accreditation for performing higher education activities, conducting study programs and reactivating higher education institutions recognition of diplomas and qualifications, the implementation and the assertion of quality control, etc.
Pursuant to the Act on Quality Assurance in Science and Higher Education (year 2019) and the Ordinance on the Content of a Licence and Conditions for Issuing a Licence for Performing Higher Education Activity, Carrying out a Study Programme and Re-Accreditation of Higher Education Institutions (year 2010), the Agency for Science and Higher Education carries out accreditation and re-accreditation of higher education institutions. All public and private higher education institutions (universities and their constituent units, University and University Colleges of Applied Sciences) shall be subject to re-accreditation in five-year cycles. The first cycle of re-accreditation began 2010/2011. and has completed in 2015/2016. Re-accreditation is carried out according to the annual plan, and can be carried out at the request of the minister or at the proposal of the higher education institution. Re-accreditation is carried out in accordance with the document "The process of re-accreditation of higher education institutions".

Success Factors

What are the enabling conditions (e.g. institutional, economic, social/cultural, regulatory) that needed to be in place or played a facilitating role for the good practice to be successful?

A permanent institutional evaluation process (assessment, monitoring, maintenance and improvement) of the quality system of higher education, institutions and study programs and PLE.

Constraints

What are the challenges, barriers or limiting factors encountered? How have they been addressed?

Prior to the establishment of the Agency there were no standardized and unified criterias for the accreditation and re-accreditation, evaluation process, monitoring, maintenance, comparison and improvements of the quality system of higher education, institutions and study programs in Croatia.
By adopting legal frameworks and setting up the Agency for Science and Higher Education by the Croatian Government in the field of science and higher education, the situation is improving.
The elements that need to be put into place for the good practice to be sustainable are legislatives regulations from the relevant ministry.

Feasibility & Sustainability

What are the elements that need to be put into place for the good practice to be sustainable (institutionally, socially, economically, etc.)? If applicable, indicate the total costs incurred for the implementation of the practice. What are the benefits compared to total costs?

The work of the Agency for Science and Higher Education is based on the following laws and acts:
- Agency for Science and Higher Education Statute
- Government Regulation Establishing the Agency for Science and Higher Education
- Act on Quality Assurance in Science and Higher Education
- Act on Scientific Activity and Higher Education
- Accreditation Council Rules of Procedure
- Accreditation Council Ethical Codex
- Ordinance on Conditions for Issuing Licence for Scientific Activity, Conditions for Re-accreditation of Scientific Organisations and Content of Licence
- Ordinance on the Content of Licence and Conditions for Issuing Licence for Performing Higher Education Activity, carrying out a Study Programme and Re-accreditation of Higher Education Institutions (OG 24/10)
- Croatian Qualifications Framework Act

Replicability & Upscaling

What are the possibilities of extending the good practice more widely? What are the conditions that need to be in place for the good practice to be successfully replicated in a similar context? What are the steps that should be taken/respected to ensure that the good practice is replicated / up-scaled, but adapted to the new context?

Some of the recommendations by the ASHE for PHE:
- better define the set of skills that students must acquire after completing the study program;
- acceptance of international learning outcomes framework, which would encourage a more transparent, reliable and more efficient process of developing and following curricula;
- coordination with the Employment Service for a systematic analysis of employability statistics and professional achievements of graduate students in Croatia and abroad;
- should try to apply practical teaching methods as much as possible;
- introduce additional contemporary teaching methods and models like PLE;
- involve representatives from the economy and other stakeholders in analyzing study programs, introduce additional English courses, review study programs, and systematically and strategically monitor existing study programs;
- develop formal and informal professional training policies for profesors;
- international cooperation should be strengthened in all higher education institutions.

Lessons learned

What would have facilitated an earlier and/or bigger impact? What are the key features that should be kept in mind if this would have to be implemented again? What would you do differently if you could go back in time? What could have been done better?

With the establishment of the Agency in the Republic of Croatia we obtained an efficient organization and institution that conducts professional affairs related to quality in education, i.e:
- evaluations of scientific organizations or higher education institutions;
- quality improvement and quality assurance systems established at higher education institutions, ie in the accreditation of study programs;
- systematic linking of the Croatian education system with international, especially European education area, involvement in the European Network of Agencies (ENQA), and on the presentation and implementation of the Bologna Declaration guidelines and documents related to the establishment of the European higher education system;
- the establishment of a national network for quality assurance in higher education, included in the European Quality Assurance Network, and the establishment of the National Information Center and the National Network of Offices for the Recognition of Diplomas and Qualifications in Educational Systems Outside the Republic of Croatia Involved in the European Network of Information Centers ( European Network of Information Centers - ENIC);
- reporting to the National Science and Higher Education Council of the conducted procedures and their results.

Context

Please provide some information about the context and initial situation that can help in fully understanding the action (e.g. information about the national system, applying regulations, etc.)

In the search for a solution how to improve the quality of Higher education and its alignment with the rest of Europe, Croatia found a solution that will contribute to the alignment of the Croatian higher education with the European systems and its integration in the European Higher Education Area, improve the quality of the study programmes and their implementation, increase mobility, recognition and reliability of Croatian higher education qualifications, improve access of people with foreign higher education qualifications to the Croatian labour market and assure equitable access to the Croatian higher education system, in a recently established Independent Agency ASHE.