Overview of QA Standards
Approaches and Methods for Quality Assurance
In BiH, two separate processes are implemented: the process of licensing and the process of accreditation.
Licensing is the process of reviewing fulfilment of the minimal standards for beginning of work and performance of higher education activity and it presents the license to provide higher education that are awarded by Competenet Education Authorities (CEA). Quantitative-normative requirements related to the human, spatial and material and technical resources of the HEI (the necessary space in m2/student, number of library units, number of computers/student, number of academic staff/size of educational groups, etc.) and these standards are not uniform in the area of the whole BiH. Each CEA adopts its own minimal standards and evaluation is done by independent expert panels for licensing, appointed by CEA. Accountability for the processes of establishing fulfilment of the applicable laws, standards and norms, as well as, continuous monitoring and control of work is also on the 12 CEAs in BiH. Agency for Development of Higher Education and Quality Assurance (HEA) does not have a role in the implementation of the licensing process of HEI in BiH, but it has, in line with the obligation from the Framework Law on Higher Education (FLHE), developed the criteria for licensing of HEIs and study programs in BiH. Criteria for licensing are not equal for all parts of BiH. According to the relevant laws, CEAs are responsible for the licensing of HEIs.
Accreditation is the process by which, on the basis of external review and quality assessment, it is confirmed that the HEI has fulfilled the set of standards and criteria in its work, which correspond to the quality norm. The accreditation criteria were adopted by HEA and they are uniform and mandatory for all the HEIs in BiH, both public and private and they are applied throughout the BiH territory. The aforementioned criteria present the basis for the HEI for the preparation of the self-evaluation report and their fulfilment is checked by an independent expert panel appointed by HEA in the process of external evaluation.
The FLHE sets out that the CEA will, as well as other authorities and organisations in BiH and for the purpose of employment or a public capacity, recognise only those academic degrees and diplomas that are issued by accredited HEIs. The participants in the process of external QA in higher education are: HEI, CEA, HEA and panel of domestic and international experts (their role is to provide assessment and conduct quality reviews and give recommendations on accreditation of HEIs and study programmes in BiH). There are four categories of experts: representative of the academic community, representative of economy and practice, an international expert and a student. The panel for each accreditation procedure for HEI should comprise a minimum of each of the four categories of experts. External QA processes in BiH are structured in a four-step model:
- a self-evaluation report drafted by the HEI,
- a site visit by the panel to the HEI,
- external review report published by the CEAs,
- follow-up activities undertaken by the HEI to address the recommendations of the panel outlined in the external evaluation report.
The HEI prepares a Self-evaluation report (it is prepared by the self-evaluation team established at each HEI, composed of management, QA staff, administrative staff and students), and in line with the provisions of the cantonal laws on higher education, the Law on Higher Education of the RS and Law on Higher Education in the BD request for accreditation (together with the SER) is submitted to the CEA of the cantons, Republika Srpska (HEAARS) and competent department of the Brčko District. Upon receipt of the request of HEI for accreditation and establishing of the timeliness of such a request, the aforementioned CEAs submit, to HEA, a proposal for appointment of an expert panel for assessment and review of quality of a certain HEI, i.e. study programme (SP). HEA appoints an expert panel on the basis of the proposal of the CEA with a previous check whether the proposed members of the expert panel are on the established List of Experts of HEA. Panel of experts in the first step evaluate the self-valuation report and then agree on the date to carry out a site-visit. On the basis of opinion of the expert panel, performing the assessment and review of quality of HEI, HEA gives recommendation on accreditation of the HEI, which is submitted to the CEA that brings a decision on accreditation. Furthermore, the CEA provides HEA with the decision on accreditation for the purpose of entry of the HEI into the National Registry of Accredited Higher Education Institutions in BiH which is managed by HEA in accordance to the FLHE. The List of Accredited HEIs in BiH is available at the following link: http://hea.gov.ba/akreditacija_vsu/Default.aspx
(Source: Eurydice page updated 9 October, 2017, revised by the CIP May, 2019)