Within the framework of the European Union ERASMUS + K3 programme “Support for policy reforms” project “Road Map for Implementation of Institutional Assessment” (hereinafter - the project) on March 17 and 18 this year, the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) and Akademic Information Centre (AIC) organized interactive seminars (workshops) for representatives of colleges, universities and partners, continuing to work on the development of the most appropriate conceptual model for the cyclical institutional accreditation of higher education institutions in Latvia.
In the first part of both seminars, AIC introduced the participants to the cyclical institution accreditation models in other European countries and provided an insight into the existing quality assessment system in Latvia, in the second part of the seminars the participants were divided into groups and invited to express their opinion by answering the group moderator’s questions. There were about 40 participants in the seminar for colleges and partners on March 17, and about 50 participants in the seminar for universities and partners on March 18.
Photo: workshop for colleges and partners on March 18
All in all, it can be concluded that the participants of both seminars agreed - cyclical accreditation of higher education institutions in Latvia is necessary and should be supported from the point of view of all involved parties. Institutional accreditation must be carried out in the public interest so that its members receive a high-quality and competitive education. The participants also pointed out that when introducing institutional accreditation as the main quality assessment system of higher education institutions in Latvia, the current assessment of study programs and fields should be abandoned. Those present emphasized that preparing for institutional accreditation takes considerable time and resources, and would therefore support such accreditation no more frequently than every 6 to 10 years. Participants drew the attention of the MES and the AIC to the need for specific guidelines, the need for a preparation phase, a transition period and training for employees. The experts who carry out the evaluation must be competent in the implementation of the processes of the specific type of educational institution, for example, the academic representatives of the college in the evaluation must be from the vocational education environment.
Photo: workshop for universities and partners on March 18
The opinions of the seminar participants were divided on the connection / separation of the evaluation of the scientific activity of institutions from institutional accreditation, the level of international standards such as ISO and their connection with the institutional accreditation process, licensing of study programs, part-time accreditation from 2 to 4 years.
Participants made constructive suggestions, for example, to link institutional accreditation to the duration of the strategies of higher education institutions and to take into account the goals set by the founder of the university when developing accreditation criteria. The ideas, suggestions and suggestions shared by the participants of the workshops will be evaluated and used in the development of the concept of institutional accreditation for Latvia.
The introduction of institutional accreditation is envisaged by the Cabinet of Ministers Order No. 210 “On the Government Action Plan for the Implementation of the Declaration on the Intended Activities of the Cabinet of Ministers led by Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš” measure “Prepare for the introduction of cyclical institutional accreditation of higher education institutions starting from 2024”. The workshops were organized with a goal in mind - it being the implementation of this measure, envisaging the needed preparatory work for the creation of actual proposal on the introduction of cyclical institutional accreditation of higher education institutions and proposals for regulatory framework by 2024. Thus, cyclical accreditation of higher education institutions would become the main quality assurance procedure, thus reducing the current overlap between the various existing quality assurance procedures, reducing the administrative burden and the costs of evaluation procedures.