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NAQA discussed institutional accreditation issues with Vice-President of ENQA and representatives of Hcéres

On April 16, 2020, an online meeting with ENQA Vice-President, Hcéres Head of the Europe and International Department François Pernot and Hcéres International Project Manager Solange Picarz on Institutional Accreditation was held.

NAQA was represented by Nataliia Stukalo, Andriy Butenko, Iryna Zolotaryova, Mychailo Wynnyckyj, Mykyta Yevstifeiev, Oleksandra Osiiuk and Albina Tsiatkovska.

Hcéres is the French public service agency responsible for the periodic evaluation of all State-contracted higher education and research institutions in France, their study programmes and their research units. Hcéres operates according to a European framework. It is recognised by ENQA and listed on the EQAR register of quality agencies.

During the meeting, the French colleagues shared their experience regarding the processes of higher education quality assurance, including institutional accreditation.  Thus, institutional accreditation in France provides for the evaluation (diagnosis) of a university’s activities, its mission and strategy, institutional capacity and quality management system by the Agency – based on the self-evaluation report of the HEI. Such evaluation is periodic, mandatory for all HEIs, and has a direct impact on their reputation and state funding. A similar practice exists in other European countries and is common among ENQA members. “Self-accreditation” (understood as a right of the HEI to accredit its own programs) is not applied in European practice, since accreditation is inherently an external evaluation. In addition, according to French colleagues, no European university, even a very good one, will be able to qualitatively evaluate its own programs.

When asked for advice on the timing of implementation of institutional accreditation, the French colleagues stressed that a complete (or almost) cycle of programme accreditations should be conducted before an HEI can become eligible for institutional accreditation. This is necessary so that a functioning internal system of quality assurance that conforms to the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area may appear, and so that a quality culture may be fostered within the HEI. Also, in order to increase their international standing, HEI’s applying for institutional accreditation should expect foreign experts to participate in the accreditation visits.

This format of online meetings (consultations) with international partners is extremely important and valuable for the National Agency in today’s challenging environment. Exchanging views with leading European experts on higher education quality assurance contributes to better understanding of key issues and challenges in shaping a quality culture in Ukraine. The national higher education quality assurance system should be developed in the light of European standards, best international practices, and the experience of countries that already have developed and effective education quality systems.