Information on the status of external evaluation by ENQA
In 2016, the Higher Education Accreditation Agency of The Republic of Srpska started the procedure of external evaluation by the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), and received a response to the request to join this association.
The request was rejected on the grounds that the Agency did not meet the two requirements of the standards out of 14 total (ESG) - one refers to the possibility of appeal against the decision on accreditation, while the other refers to thematic analyzes in the field of quality assurance. We remind you that the procedure for issuing the decision on accreditation is prescribed by the Law on Higher Education of the Republic of Srpska, which defines that the decision on accreditation is finally in administrative procedure and that an administrative dispute can be initiated against it, and is therefore binding on the Agency.
When it comes to thematic analyzes, the Agency, in accordance with its resources, had certain activities on the preparation of thematic analyzes, and we are of the opinion that joint activity of other key actors in the field of higher education system in The Republic of Srpska would be important in this area.
Of the remaining 12 standards and criteria on the basis of which the Agency's external evaluation was performed, three were assessed as partially met and the remaining as fully or significantly met, and it is of particular importance that the requirements of the standards related to procedures and implementation are fully met. accreditation process. The fulfillment of the standard was assessed as follows:
- Internal quality assurance review (significantly met)
- Development of methodologies that are appropriate for the purpose (significantly met)
- Process implementation (significantly met)
- Experts in the evaluation process (significantly met)
- Outcome criteria (fully met)
- Reporting (fully met)
- Quality assurance activities, policies and processes (significantly met)
- Official status (fully met)
- Independence (partially fulfilled)
- Resources (partially filled)
- Internal quality assurance and professional conduct (partially met)
- Periodic external evaluations of the agency (fully completed)
The ENQA letter also contains recommendations for the development of the Agency, which mostly refer to the development of procedures for the upcoming accreditation of study programs, and one part of the recommendations concerns the necessary systemic support of the Government of The Republic of Srpska and the Ministry of Education to strengthen the Agency in order to insure the operational independence and the necessary funds and resources.
When it comes to higher education institutions, the report of the commission of experts related to the Agency states that higher education institutions are still in the early stages of development of the internal quality assurance system and that more efforts are needed to achieve full compliance with the Law on Higher Education of The Republic of Srpska and with Quality Assurance Standards in the European Higher Education Area (ESG). The recommendation of the commission in this area is that the Agency should ensure through accreditation activities that all institutions are fully aware of the requirements of the ESG and have adequate procedures that engage all relevant actors in the implementation of their quality assurance procedures.
The report of the commission of experts and the recommendations stated in the letter from ENQA can serve as a basis for strengthening the quality assurance system in higher education institutions as well as for the institutional and organizational strengthening of the Agency itself. Given that many successful agencies have gone through the same path when submitting the first application for admission to ENQA, the decision should not be seen as a failure but as an opportunity to develop and improve their own activities similar to the letter of expectation in quality assurance in higher education in The Republic of Srpska.
The Agency can submit a new application for admission to ENQA after two years, and in the meantime an action plan for improvement is to be developed based on a detailed report of the commission, especially selected recommendations, as well as more intensive cooperation with higher education institutions.