Overview of QA Standards
Since 2013 Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth (MoESY) undertook a profound institutional reform in the higher education and scientific research of the Republic of Albania beginning with a scrutinizing process of lawfulness control. In December 2014, MoESY signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Quality Assurance Agency of the United Kingdom (QAA-UK) aiming at quality review and quality certification of all HEIs operating nationwide, as well as capacity building of HEIs themselves and national institutions which review and assure quality in the higher education. Since then AQAHE and QAA-UK started a successful cooperation and in February 2016 MoES and QAA-UK signed an Overall Project Contract for the provision of quality assurance expertise to support the external review of 35 HEIs in Albania.
As a first step, AQAHE has compiled the succeeding approach with the backing of QAA-UK taking into consideration the Standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG). The external institutional review of HEIs is being carried out during 2016-2017 in order to determine to what extent the Albanian HEIs meet the State Quality Standards, entered into force in 2011, upon which subsequently the accreditation decree will be based. The external institutional review is an evaluation process by exterior experts, selected and nominated by both AQAHE and QAA-UK. Final review reports will serve up not only for the institutional accreditation of HEIs, but also to enlighten the entire community, Albanian students, the Albanian Government how exactly HEIs satisfy the state standards. This review aims as well to embolden HEIs to perform better for the constantly increasing quality of academic offer and enhancing students’ teaching and studying conditions.
The Quality State Standards are classified into five review areas:
- HEI’s Organization and management
- Teaching, learning, assessment and research
- Students and their assistance
The institutional review is a multi-steps course of action comprising self-evaluation, preliminary evaluation based on documentation, review visit and preparation of evaluation report.
The process starts with the HEI’s self-evaluation by preparing the self-evaluation set of documents delivered to AQAHE. AQAHE brings together HEI’s self-evaluation documents with additional information to set up the self-evaluation dossier. Additional information embraces evidences gathered from AQAHE’s data base and HEI’s staff and students’ questionnaires, which are managed, stored and elaborated by AQAHE. Review experts may ask for further information during the visit on site in case it is deemed necessary for the review process.
After that, a group of external reviewers of AQAHE and QAA start off the evaluation process by scrutinizing the papers of self-evaluation dossier.
The third step is the visit at the HEI during which experts come together with HEI’s staff, students and other HEI’s representatives. The visit intention is check-up and confirmation of data, facts and information in diverse areas which have been spotted by the experts during the second phase (experts scrutinize the papers of self-evaluation dossier). This visit enables the experts to get to the evaluation findings and respective conclusions, each for every review area, as well as to the overall conclusion about the fulfilment extent of state standards by the HEI. The conclusions along with the reasoning behind them are particularised in the review report.
Following the onsite visit, the experts assess the accrued information and conclude their findings combined with reasoning for each review area. Subsequently, the review team of experts compile the draft review report. The conclusion for each review field is based on a four scale scheme and is articulated in one of the following ways: i. Standards of [name of field] are fully met, ii. Standards of [name of field] are mostly met, iii. Standards of [name of field] are partly met, iv. Standards of [name of field] are not met. Based on the findings and conclusions for every single review area, the review experts’ team brings about an overall estimation for the institutional review, which is stated in one of the subsequent manners: i. Quality state standards are fully met, ii. Quality state standards are mostly met, iii. Quality state standards are partly met, iv. Quality state standards are not met.
(Source: Eurydice, page updated 28 March, 2019)