Higher Education and Research

Program Accreditation (Slovakian Case)
Assoc. Prof. Ivan Ostrovsky, PhD, Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovak Republic
(Implementation of the Bologna Process in the Georgian Higher Education System)
Tbilisi, November 2005

Introduction
Quality is a sector in which higher education institutions have been involved heavily in recent decades. It is becoming a real buzzword in discussions of academics all over the world. Fundamental questions are typical. What does it mean? What are the reasons? What are the tools and ways to achieve quality in higher education? Answers and solutions are as colourful as the world of higher education is today. Academics, students and observers from outside “Academia” are facing strange words and terms like quality, quality assessment, quality assurance, evaluation, accreditation, certification, etc. For this reason it is useful to look at the content of such terms. In Webster`s New World Dictionary it is possible to find definitions of these terms as follows:

QUALITY

    1) any of the features that make something what it is = characteristic element, attribute
    2) basic nature, character, kind
    3) the degree of excellence which a thing possesses
    4) excellence, superiority
    5) (Social) people of high social position, capacity or role
    6) (Archaic) high social position (archaic)
    7) (Logic) characteristic of a proposition according to which it is classified as affirmative or negative
    8) (Acoustic) the property of a tone determined by its overtones; timbre
    9) (Phonetic) the distinctive character of a vowel sound as determined by the resonance of the vocal cords and the shape of the air passage above the larynx when the sound is produced

EVALUATE

    1) to find the value or amount of
    2) to judge or determine the worth or quality of; appraise
    3) to find the numerical value of; express in numbers

ASSESS

    1) to set an estimated value on (property, etc.) for taxation
    2) to set the amount of (tax, fine, damages, etc.)
    3) to impose a fine, tax or special payment on (a person or property
    4) to impose (an amount) as a fine, tax, etc.
    5) to estimate or determine the significance, importance, or value of; evaluate

ASSESSMENT

    1) the act of assessing
    2) an amount assessed

ACCREDIT
ac credit (Fr. accréditer - to give credit or authority),
1) to bring into credit
2) to authorize, give credentials
3) to believe in, take as true
4) to certify as meeting certain set standards
5) to attribute

CERTIFICATE

    a written or printed statement by which a fact is formally or officially certified or attested

a) document certifying that one has met specified requirements, as for teaching
b) document certifying ownership, a promise to pay

ASSURE

    1) to make (a person) sure of something; convince
    2) to give confidence to; reassure
    3) to declare to or promise confidently
    4) to make (a doubtful thing) certain; guarantee
    5) to make safe or secure
    6) to insure against loss, esp. of life

ASSURANCE

    1) the act of assuring
    2) the state of being assured; sureness; confidence; certainty
    3) something said or done to inspire confidence, as a promise, positive statement, etc.; guarantee
    4) belief in one’s own abilities; self-confidence
    5) impudent forwardness; presumption
    6) insurance, esp. life insurance

Quality Assurance
One of the most serious challenges facing global society is the huge demand for higher education all over the world. Because of the increasing importance of knowledge, which has been recognised by the majority of nations, the importance of higher education has increased substantially. The result of this particular demand is known as “massification” of higher education. Naturally this huge dissemination of higher education was very soon followed by questions about the quality of such education performance. Therefore there is very intensive effort to find and perform quality assurance systems of enough high effectiveness with enough high efficiency.
There are two different principles used for quality assurance in Higher education. The first one is the principle of “excellence” typically used in the HE system of the USA. The second principle is “fitness for purpose” typically used in Europe.
Looking at the history of quality assurance it is possible to find typical periods. Starting from “quality assessment”, which means evaluation and measurement of the selected parameters and indicators, to “quality assurance”, which means (in narrow terms) to add some managerial approach and activities to evaluation, followed by “quality enhancement”, which involves adding “the spirit of quality” to quality assurance, which means substantial mental and cultural change of the internal environment of higher education to support the quality of higher education as such. All this is now known as the “quality culture” or “culture of quality”.
From the organisational point of view it is possible to identify two different approaches to improving the quality of higher education. It is possible to organise it as a top-down activity or as a bottom-up procedure. In western European countries as well as in the USA bottom-up procedures of quality assurance are more typical. In Central and Eastern Europe top-down activities are typical. The difference is that in bottom-up procedures higher education institutions are the leading force for quality assurance while in top-down activities external authorities (governments, ministries of education or national QA authorities) followed by top management of HE Institutions play the major role.
The real situation in quality assurance for higher education looks pretty complex because not only do directions of activities, organisational structures and powers and responsibilities differ, but also the terminology used in this sector is confusing. In the USA “accreditation” is the term most frequently used. Both institutional and program accreditation are known there. Both are voluntary for the HE Institutions but the results are considered by external authorities (government for institutional accreditation and professional bodies for program accreditation) as a very relevant and important indicator and/or parameter for professional activities of the particular HE Institution as well as for its institutional and financial support. In Europe there is a mixture of both quality assurance in West and accreditation in Central and Eastern Europe.
Fortunately there has been a very intensive discussion in Europe focused on quality assurance/quality culture in higher education for the last decade. The first aims were to inform each other about the approaches, organisations, mechanisms and results used and obtained in quality assurance. Later there was an effort to disseminate experience and look for good practice in this sector. In the nineties quality assurance became a focus point of the well-known Bologna Process. Today there is an effective and efficient monitoring system of quality assurance development in Europe even though there is no one single solution of organisation, mechanism or method for quality assurance in Higher Education Area which is now organised by European Union for Europe i.e. not only for member states. Monitoring system is based on regular meetings of ministers of education all signatory states (now 45) which take place every two years. The European University Association (EUA), the European Network of Quality Assurance Agencies (ENQA), European Association of Vocational Schools (EURASHE) and European Students International Board (ESIB) are the official and formal partners for this ministerial meeting to monitor and prepare documents on the development of Higher education in Europe for the last two years between two sessions. One such meeting in Berlin (Germany) in September 2003 stressed the importance of quality assurance in higher education. Ministers emphasised the importance of all elements of the Bologna Process for establishing the European Higher Education Area and stress the need to intensify efforts at an institutional, national and European level. However, to give the Process further momentum, they committed themselves to intermediate priorities for the next two years. They strengthened their efforts to promote effective quality assurance systems, to step up effective use of the system based on two cycles and to improve the recognition system of degrees and periods of studies. Ministers underlined that the quality of higher education has proven to be at the heart of the setting up of a European Higher Education Area. Ministers committed themselves to supporting further development of quality assurance at the institutional, national and European level. They stressed the need to develop mutually shared criteria and methodologies on quality assurance. They also stressed that in accordance with the principle of institutional autonomy, the primary responsibility for quality assurance in higher education lies with each institution itself and this provides the basis for real accountability of the academic system within the national quality framework. Therefore, they agreed that by 2005 national quality assurance systems should include:

    · A definition of the responsibilities of the bodies and institutions involved.
    · Evaluation of programmes or institutions, including internal assessment, external review, participation of students and the publication of results.
    · A system of accreditation, certification or comparable procedures.
    · International participation, co-operation and networking.

At the European level, Ministers called upon ENQA through its members, in co-operation with the EUA, EURASHE and ESIB, to develop an agreed set of standards, procedures and guidelines on quality assurance, to explore ways of ensuring an adequate peer review system for quality assurance and/or accreditation agencies or bodies, and to report back through the Follow-up Group to Ministers in 2005. Due account was taken of the expertise of other quality assurance associations and networks.
This year there was another monitoring meeting of Ministers in Bergen (Norway). Among other results it is possible to point out that almost all countries have made provision for a quality assurance system based on the criteria set out in the Berlin Communiqué including a high degree of cooperation and networking. However, there is still progress to be made, particularly as regards student involvement and international cooperation. Furthermore, Ministers urge higher education institutions to continue their efforts to enhance the quality of their activities through the systematic introduction of internal mechanisms and their direct correlation to external quality assurance.
Ministers adopted the standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the European Higher Education Area as proposed by ENQA. Ministers committed themselves to introducing the proposed model for peer review of quality assurance agencies on a national basis, while respecting the commonly accepted guidelines and criteria. They welcome the principle of a European register of quality assurance agencies based on national review. Ministers asked that the practicalities of implementation be further developed by ENQA in cooperation with EUA, EURASHE and ESIB with a report back to them through the Follow-up Group. They underlined the importance of cooperation between nationally recognised agencies with a view to enhancing the mutual recognition of accreditation or quality assurance decisions.
There are nice findings about the relationship between internal and external quality assurance in an EUA report TRENDS IV1. All over Europe higher education institutions are both expending their internal quality arrangements and facing a growing number of external quality assurance procedures. The relationship between internal quality and external quality assurance was evaluated quite divergently across Europe. In systems where internal quality processes are still being established, the relationship between internal and external quality mechanisms seems to work well. In more established systems with intricate and more institutionalised QA processes, external quality assurance tends to be seen as more of a bureaucratic burden of limited use for institutional development.
Most importantly, institutions find that a well developed internal quality culture should be associated with a light external quality approach. Generally, institutions considered internal quality processes to be more improvement-oriented than external quality assurance procedures. These external procedures were felt to be more often geared toward control and compliance and less attuned to the aims, priorities and conditions under which the institutions or evaluated unit was developing.
Self-evaluation reports provide an interface between internal and external quality assurance processes. Frequently, institutional representatives mentioned that these constitute the most useful part of any quality assurance process, but only if they lead to follow up and concrete implementation.
Many comments were made regarding the relative effectiveness of different external quality assurance measures, mostly with respect to teaching. The external evaluation of teaching is either examined indirectly at the level of institutions through quality audits that review the internal quality processes, or through programme evaluation. While programme evaluation is generally concerned with teaching outputs, programme accreditation is often reported to be predominantly focussed on input and structure although exceptions to this general rule do exist. In the case of subject or programme evaluations, some positive of meaningful improvement-oriented processes were reported, especially concerning improvements in feedback from negative assessments. However, some institutions point out that the link to relevant research and support services is often missing when the evaluation only focuses on teaching.
Institutions were more often critical of programme accreditation, in particular objecting to the controlling, prescriptive and limiting outcomes of accreditation practices. For example, complaints were voiced about the practice of prescribing a list of subjects in which programmes can be offered or preventing interdisciplinary programmes from being established because of accreditation committees´ disciplinary prejudices. Institutions see no difference whether such restrictions of their freedom to develop new programmes are set by the government or by an independent accreditation body. Often accreditation was demanded and defined by professional bodies, with no consideration of other internal quality processes at universities and thus no regard to possible synergies or overlap with institutional quality processes. This posed additional and unnecessary bureaucratic burdens to institutions. Such problems were not, however, reported with respect to institutional quality audits.

Quality assurance in Slovak Republic
Because the diplomas issued by higher education institutions as well as academic awards (professorship) are guaranteed by the State, the recent history of quality assurance in Slovak Republic has been as a typical top-down activity. In the early nineties the Accreditation Commission was established (by specific regulation) as an advisory body of the Slovak government. This was the only legal body responsible for quality assurance in the country till 2002. The Accreditation Commission was responsible for the evaluation of institutions (faculties and universities) as well as for the accreditation of study programmes. Evaluations of the institutions (faculties and universities) were not very successful and the results were rejected by the universities as well as by the Ministry of Education. Accreditation of study programmes was more successful but did not cover all of them. At the end of that period about 30% of full time students and more than 50% of part time students studied programmes without accreditation. About 7000 higher education diplomas were issued from those non-accredited programmes. During that period higher education institutions took part in a series of projects and activities focussed on quality assurance. The most important of these were the projects in the Tempus program and international institutional evaluations done by EUA. The quality culture of higher education did not play a very important role at that time.
In 2002 a new Higher Education Act 2was approved by the National Parliament. This law officially involved higher education institutions (Universities and Academies) in quality assurance together with the Accreditation Commission. Both sides (Universities and Commission) have defined their own competencies and responsibilities as follows.

Higher Education Institutions

Higher education institutions shall provide higher education within the framework of accredited study programmes. The study programmes shall be carried out at three levels. The study programmes may join the first two levels of higher education into one whole. The study programme of the first level is the Bachelor study programme. The study programmes of the second level and the study programmes of the first two levels of higher education joined into one whole are: Master study programme, Engineer study programme and Doctoral study programme. The study programme of the third level is the PhD study programme and specialised training in medicine.
The field of study is a field of knowledge which may be a subject of higher education in one of its three levels. The field of study is defined by its content characterised especially by the fields and extent of knowledge, abilities and skills that make up the graduate's profile.
The Ministry administers the list of the fields of study of the Slovak Republic (hereinafter referred to as ”the list of the fields of study”). The list of the fields of study contains the fields of study in which the higher education institutions in the Slovak Republic may provide higher education. A proposal for including a new field of study into the list of the fields of study or a proposal for another change in the list of the fields of study (hereinafter referred to as the ”proposal for change in the list of fields of study”) is submitted to the Ministry. The proposal is usually submitted by a higher education institution. The Ministry may enlist a new field of study or make another change in the list of the fields of study only after an opinion given by the Accreditation Commission. Details on the list of the fields of study and on its administration shall be provided for by generally binding legal regulations issued by the Ministry.
Higher education in a field of study or in a combination of fields of study is acquired by study as defined by the accredited study programme in this field of study or in combination of fields of study. The study programme is a set of educational activities such as, in particular, lectures, seminars, exercises, dissertation theses, diploma theses, project work, laboratory work, internship, field trips, practical training (hereinafter referred to as the “unit of the study programme”) and a set of rules devised so that successful completion of the educational activities while abiding by the given rules enables the acquisition of higher education. A constituent part of the study according to any study programme is a final thesis; its defence is a part of the State examinations. A study programme may be carried out in a field of study which is included in the list of the fields of study. A study programme may be carried out also in a combination of two fields of study. If the proportion of both fields of study is about the same in the study programme, it is an interdisciplinary course, otherwise one field of study is major and the other is minor. The name of a study programme is derived, as a rule, from the name of the corresponding field of study. If it is combination of major and minor, the name of study programme shall be derived from the name of the major. The study programme is artistic if it is aimed at development of talent and creativity in the field of artistic performance and work of art on the basis of artistic principles. A significant part of any artistic study programme is an artistic performance. The name of the study programme may contain the term ”artistic”, ”art” or similar term only in case that it is an artistic study programme.
The Scientific Board of a public higher education institution is a self-governing body responsible for the quality of academic staff, research and teaching performance of the university. To this end the Scientific Board:

    a) discusses the long-term strategy of the public higher education institution,
    b) gives a regular, at least annual, evaluation of the level of the public higher education institution regarding its teaching activity and activities in the field of science, technology or art,
    c) discuss proposals for study programmes, if their discussion is beyond the scope of authority of the Scientific Board of the faculty; student representatives elected by the student part of the Academic Senate of a public higher education institution are invited to participate in discussions of the Scientific Board of the public higher education institution concerning proposals of study programmes,
    The students are involved in quality assurance as well because each of them is entitled at least once a year, in particular, to have the option to comment on the quality of teaching and teachers in the form of an anonymous questionnaire and/or express freely his/her opinions and comments on the system of higher education.

Accreditation
Composition of the Accreditation Commission
The Accreditation Commission is established by the Government as its advisory body approving its Statute. The Accreditation Commission is composed of the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and other members (hereinafter referred to as “members of the Commission”), appointed and recalled by the Government at the Minister's proposal after consultation with representative bodies of higher education institutions. They are appointed from among distinguished personalities of higher education institutions, professional and scientific establishments. Members of the Accreditation Commission also include foreign experts. The Accreditation Commission has twenty one members. One third of the members of the Accreditation Commission come from non-higher education institutions.
The Government shall appoint members of the Accreditation Commission for six years. They may be appointed for no more than two consecutive terms of office. At the first appointment of members of the Accreditation Commission hereby one third of the members shall be determined by lot, the term of office of whom shall end after two years, and one third of the members, the term of office of whom shall end after four years. The Chairman of the Accreditation Commission shall be appointed for six years. The function of the member of the Accreditation Commission is incompatible with the post of Rector, Vice-Rector, Dean and Vice-Dean.
The Accreditation Commission may establish work teams for professional preparation of its discussions. The Chairman and other members of the work team are appointed and recalled by the Chairman of the Accreditation Commission after the approval of the Accreditation Commission; the Chairman of the work team is appointed from members of the Commission. The work team members must fulfil the criteria of high professional level and authority. Foreign experts may also become members of the work team.
The method of discussion of the Accreditation Commission and its work teams shall be regulated by the Statute of the Accreditation Commission approved by the Government. The activities of the Accreditation Commission are physically and financially provided for by the Ministry.
The activities of members of the Accreditation Commission and its work teams are acts in the general interest. Their employers shall, at the Minister’s request, grant them remuneration and cover their travel expenses in accordance with special regulations. The funds for the remuneration shall be refunded to the employer by the Ministry.
Activities of the Accreditation Commission
The Accreditation Commission monitors, estimates and independently evaluates the quality of the teaching, research, development, artistic or other creative activities of higher education institutions and contributes to their improvement. It generally assesses conditions under which such activities are carried out at individual institutions of higher education and develops recommendations for the improvement of work in higher education institutions. The Accreditation Commission may inform the public about its findings.
The Accreditation Commission gives its opinion on the following:

    a) the capacity of the higher education institution to implement the study programme with the right to award to its graduates the academic degree,
    b) the capacity of the non-higher education institution to take part in implementation of the PhD study programme,
    c) the capacity of the higher education institution to conduct the habilitation procedure and procedure for nomination of ”professors”,
    d) proposals for the establishment, merger, affiliation, split, dissolution, change of name or change of seat of a public higher education institution or a State higher education institution, faculty of a public higher education institution or faculty of a State higher education institution,
    e) proposal for granting the State consent for a legal entity wishing to act as a public higher education institution,
    f) proposals for classification of higher education institutions as “research universities”,
    g) proposals for changes in the list of the fields of study,
    h) other proposals with regard to the system of higher education presented by the Minister.

The Accreditation Commission appraises the level of research, development, artistic or other creative activities of higher education institutions. In doing so it considers the results of periodical evaluation of a higher education institution according to special regulations. The Accreditation Commission also performs complex accreditation of activities of higher education institutions. When fulfilling its tasks, the Accreditation Commission is entitled to require information, documentation and cooperation, essential for its activities, from central bodies of the State administration, from higher education institutions and legal entities carrying out research and development at the territory of the Slovak Republic, applying for accreditation pursuant to law. The Accreditation Commission gives its opinion on the facts, excluding the statement within the framework of complex accreditation of activities of the higher education institution not later than within one hundred fifty days from receipt of complete documents.
The establishment of the Accreditation Commission, the method for the selection of its members, the procedure for the performance of its activities according to law as well as the manner of submission and the more detailed content of applications and background materials for the activities of the Accreditation Commission are regulated by decree of the government of the Slovak Republic.
The criteria applied in the evaluation of the capacities under law, to the proposal for classification of a higher education institution and in appraisal of level of research, development, artistic and other creative activities shall be approved by the Ministry at the proposal of the Accreditation Commission after consultation with representative bodies of higher education institutions.
Accreditation of Individual Activities of a Higher education Institution and
Granting Rights

Accreditation of a study programme is a process within the framework of which the Accreditation Commission shall assess, at the request of a higher education institution, the institution’s capacity to implement the study programme. After the statement of the Accreditation Commission the Ministry may grant the higher education institution the right to award graduates of this study programme the appropriate academic degree. The study programme for which the higher education institution is granted the above right, is the accredited study programme. The higher education institution that has an accredited study programme upon completing of which the degree of “magister”(master) is awarded, has the right to award the appropriate academic degree after successful completion of examina rigorosa.
In assessment of the capacity to implement the study programme, the subjects of evaluation include compliance with the set criteria, its content, requirements for applicants and the method used to select them, requirements for completion, personnel, material, technical and information resources of the study programme and the level of students and graduates in the study programme. For new study programmes it is possible to apply special criteria at the first accreditation, while the Accreditation Commission shall give positive statement if it considers that there are all grounds to anticipate that the higher education institution will be capable of implementing this study programme by the end of the period corresponding to the standard length of study at the latest, having applied the standard criteria, and that the existing conditions shall enable also the first graduates to receive the standard higher education.
The basic document for the statement of the Accreditation Commission is in particular the evaluation report of the working group. A statement on the content of the report made by the higher education institution is given as an annex. This statement also forms an annex to the Accreditation Commission’s statement that is submitted to the Ministry.
If at the time of accreditation a higher education institution meets the prescribed criteria applied at assessment of the capacity and the fact of compliance creates sufficient conditions for preservation of the capacity until the nearest complex accreditation of the higher education institution activity, the Ministry grants the rights by law above without the time limits. The rights granted without time limits are regularly assessed within the framework of complex accreditation of the higher education institution’s activity. If a new study programme is considered, the Ministry grants the rights for the period corresponding at most to the standard length of study.
If at the time of accreditation a higher education institution meets the prescribed criteria applied at assessment of the capacity but the fact of compliance does not create sufficient conditions for preservation of the capacity until the nearest complex accreditation of the higher education institution’s activity, the Ministry grants the rights by law with the time limit, as a rule, for two years. At the same time, it shall require the higher education institution to take measures for removal of shortcomings and to submit a report on their results within the set time limit. If required by the nature of shortcomings found out at the accreditation, it shall ask the Accreditation Commission to inspect of the result of measures by visiting the higher education institution. If the measures taken guarantee the preservation of the appropriate capacity until the nearest complex accreditation of the higher education institution’s activity, the Ministry shall, upon the statement by the Accreditation Commission, cancel the time limit of the granted rights. If the provisions for maintaining the appropriate capacity, despite the accepted measures, have not been reached by the nearest complex accreditation, but the higher education institution continues to meet the criteria, the Ministry shall prolong the granted rights with a time limit. If the higher education institution has ceased to meet the criteria, or if it has not submitted the required report within the time limit, it proceeds in accordance with rules below.
If a higher education institution, at the time of accreditation, does not meet the prescribed criteria applied at assessment of the capacity and it has been granted the corresponding rights by that time, the Ministry shall suspend their validity and shall instruct the higher education institution to take immediate measures to remove the shortcomings and to submit a report of their results within one year. At the same time, it shall ask the Accreditation Commission to verify the result of measures by visiting the higher education institution. If the higher education institution has removed the shortcomings and meets the required criteria, the Ministry shall, after the statement of the Accreditation Commission, renew the validity of the granted rights in accordance with law; otherwise, it shall deprive it of the rights. The Ministry shall also deprive the institution of the rights in the event that the higher education institution has not submitted the required report within the time limit. If the higher education institution, at the time of accreditation, does not meet the criteria applied at assessment of capacity and it has not been granted rights by that time, the Ministry shall reject the request for granting the rights.
If a higher education institution was deprived of the right or had its request for granting of the right refused, the higher education institution may apply for accreditation of the study programme in the same field of study not earlier than one year after the Ministry’s decision.
The Accreditation Commission is authorised to demand from higher education institutions and external educational institutions any information relevant to the performance of accreditation activities any time during the validity of accreditation. If it finds out that a higher education institution or external educational institution ceased to meet the criteria for granting of the relevant right, it may initiate the accreditation of relevant activity.
Complex Accreditation of the Activities of a Higher education Institution
Complex accreditation of activities of a higher education institution shall be a process within the framework of which the Accreditation Commission generally assesses and evaluates teaching, research, development, artistic or other creative activities of the higher education institution, as well as personnel, technical, information and other conditions in which such activities are carried out and gives a statement on the higher education institution’s requests for accreditation of all study programme and accreditation of all habilitation procedures and procedures for nomination of “professors” in which the higher education institution wishes to be granted the appropriate rights.
Complex accreditation of the activities of a higher education institution will be carried out at six-year intervals, according to a previously published plan of complex accreditation developed by the Accreditation Commission. Complex accreditation of the activities of a higher education institution starts by the day set out for submission of basic documents for individual higher education institutions. The time periods for submission of basic documents are a part of the plan of complex accreditation and should be known at least one year in advance. In the period between two complex accreditations of activities of a higher education institution the accreditation of individual activities of a higher education institution may be performed if a need arises.
The higher education institution shall submit the following documentation within the time limit given by the schedule of complex accreditation for the purpose of accreditation, in particular:

    a) evaluation of its own activity; this should also include the results of regular student surveys,
    b) applications for accreditation of all study programmes for which it wishes to be granted the right to award the academic degree, including the appropriate documentation relating to study programmes,
    c) applications for accreditation of habilitation procedures and the procedure for nomination of “professors” in all fields of study in which it wishes to conduct such procedures, including the relevant documentation,
    d) background materials for evaluation of research, development, artistic and other creative activities.

The result of complex accreditation of activities of higher education institutions will be the following:

    e) an evaluation of fulfilment of the higher education institution’s mission and tasks based on analysis of its activity developed by the Accreditation Commission; the evaluation also contains recommendations for improving the work of the higher education institution,
    f) the opinion of the Accreditation Commission on the capacity of a higher education institution to implement study programmes for accreditation of which the higher education institution has applied and a decision of the Ministry on the granting, suspension, deprivation or non-granting of the relevant rights,
    g) the opinion of Accreditation Commission on capacity to conduct habilitation procedure and procedure for nomination of “professors” in the fields of study for accreditation of which the higher education institution has applied and a decision of the Ministry on the granting, suspension, deprivation or non-granting of the relevant rights,
    h) an evaluation of research, development, artistic and other activities of the higher education institution,
    i) a statement of the Accreditation Commission on classification of the higher education institution as required by law.

The Accreditation Commission shall produce its evaluation within ten months of the beginning of the complex accreditation of activities. The Ministry shall decide about the granting, suspension, deprivation or non-granting of the rights within sixty days of receipt of the statement from the Accreditation Commission. The Ministry shall provide the higher education institution the with the evaluation report of the Accreditation Commission and the results of its decision on the granting of rights whereby it shall complete the complex accreditation of the higher education institution.
If a higher education institution has not submitted within the basic documentation for purposes of complex accreditation of activities the application for accreditation of some of the activities in which it has until now had the relevant right, the Ministry shall deprive it of this with effect from the date of termination of complex accreditation of the activities of a higher education institution.
During the complex accreditation of activities the higher education institution cannot submit any applications for accreditation of individual activities except for the applications for accreditation of new study programme and applications for accreditation of habilitation procedures and procedures for nomination of ”professors” in the fields of study in which the higher education institution has not applied yet for accreditation. If a higher education institution has been granted the right with a time limitation the validity of which terminates in the period during complex accreditation of the higher education institution activities, the acknowledged right shall be automatically extended until its expiry.
Accreditation of study programmes started in 2003. At the time of writing more than 2000 study programmes have been accredited. Complex accreditation of higher education institutions will begin in 2006. In 2005 the Slovak Rectors Conference decided and applied for the institutional evaluation of all higher education institutions and higher education system in the country provided by EUA using the well-known Institutional Evaluation Programme. This application was accepted.


1 Sybille Reichert, Christian Tauch,TRENDS IV: European Universities implementing Bologna, Ed.: Kate Gedie, David Crosier, European University Association, Rue d´Egmont 13, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, 2005

2 Law No. 131/2002 on Higher Education