Assessing Quality - 2nd Athens International Conference on University Assessment HELLENIC AMERICAN UNIVERSITY

Abstracts & Presentations




Quality Assurance and challenges facing Higher Education in Greece

by Prof. Spyros Amourgis - President, Hellenic Quality Agency, Greece

Quality in Higher Education is desirable by all while Quality Assurance as a process seems to have some opponents in Greece.

Higher Education in Greece is still  provided exclusively by the State. This means that institutions  are audited mainly  for financial management .

Evaluation of academic  performance was left to be dealt  internally by each institution.

The aim of the Law 3374/2005 regarding Quality Assurance in Higher Education is to get all the institution into a dynamic state through a systematic self-evaluation process verified periodically by independent external experts.

This process is essential if higher education institutions are to meet changing social needs.


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The Bologna Process and its Impact on the Development of the Hellenic Quality Assurance System

by Dr. Foteini Asderaki - Bologna Follow-up Group Member, Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs, Greece

Hellas lagged behind other European countries as far as the development of a national Quality Assurance system is concerned. While national evaluation and accreditation systems were established in most European countries during the 90s, any attempt of checking the quality of education and research or other services provided by Hellenic HEIs and of rendering social accountability for the public resources that they received, was considered as an attempt against their autonomy. In addition, the centralized admission system and the state funding that ensured resources for the HEIs, annulled any kind of competitiveness between HEIs, which under different circumstances would seek for a quality label. Moreover, the absence of an essential dialogue and the lack of information about international and European developments, as well as the concern for the “marketisation” of higher education led the academic community to “demonize” the Bologna Process in which Hellas has participated since its establishment in 1999. And yet owing to the Bologna Process, as my presentation illustrates, the national Quality Assurance system was established in 2005, close to the Bergen Ministerial Conference. The Stocktaking exercise played a key role in this development.

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The Long Life Learning Institutes as a Prerequisite for University Upgrading

by Dr. Nikitas Chiotinis - Professor-Director of Faculty of Graphic Design and Applied Arts, Technological Education Institute of Piraeus, Greece & Dr. Paraskevi Boufounou - Associate Professor, Faculty of Business Administration, Technological Education Institute of Ionian Islands, Greece

Since the beginning of the last few decades of XX century, we are facing a gradually intensifying development of sciences, a development that Universities could not foresee based on the so far established views of considering the definition of their mission. Universities continue to focus their interest on servicing the direct needs of the «market», therefore the direct needs of «production».This has resulted into the creation of scientists that should more precisely be defined as «operators of sciences» and hence, in a very short period of time, are or will be over-passed by the evolutions of science itself.

Therefore, nowadays the objective of the education of today can be no other than the creation of scientists that will be flexible enough so as to adapt to the continuously changing environment The new scientists ought to possess such a solid theoretical background that will enable them not only to adapt to the continuously changing environment but also to foresee and induce the change of the environment themselves.

Far beyond, the need to establish the new World, that is now being founded under a new culture on a solid ground basis, overriding the multiple dead ends the humanity faces, is becoming more and more imperative. The educational system has to initiate a reengineering process and to redefine its fundamental goals, so as to be placed once more on the forefront of the international cultural scenery, as traditionally was.

In any case, Education and Higher Education especially, should drift away from the need to directly servicing the «market», at the same time remaining acquainted to it. The «Institutes of Life Learning Education» are therefore reorienting their definition into a prerequisite for upgrading the undergraduate studies and for enhancing the Universities’ social mission.

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Strengths & Weaknesses of Greek Students in the International Employment Market, from a Company Recruitment Process Perspective

by George Dakos - President & Managing Director, Stedima SA Business Consultants, Greece

There exists a triple selection relation between Students, Universities and Companies.  Students select graduate degrees and apply for University entrance.  Universities especially for postgraduate studies adopt evaluation and quality criteria for student selection.  Company HR departments select their future employees on grounds of both academic and individual quality standards.  The paper focuses on the perceptions and employment aspirations of Greek graduate students and interrelates these to company needs and selection methods applied in their quest for young talented graduates.

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Quality Assurance or Quality Lapses?: The Case of the UK External Examining System

by Sofia Daskou - Assistant Professor of Marketing, Hellenic American University

The term quality in higher education has a relative meaning to various stakeholders (Harvey and Green 1993), yet in the UK, the distinctly accepted method of assuring it is the regulated system of external examining. The paper presents a qualitative study that explores the benefits and shortcomings of the external examining system, as a methodology of assuring the quality of taught university programs within and out width the boundaries of the UK. The fieldwork includes a series of in depth interviews of external examiners servicing national and internationally franchised programs. The data reveals a wide breadth of issues that support the utility of the system, as well as information that challenge the waterproof nature of the method of external examining. The paper concludes with a number of recommendations for systemic improvements.

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Regulation and Accreditation:  A United States Local State Perspective

by Kathryn G. Dodge - Executive Director of the New Hampshire Post Secondary Education Commission (NHPEC), USA

The accreditation and approval process will be discussed from the local state perspective in the United States; the history of regulation and funding will also be reviewed in order to understand the evolving context. Emphasis will be placed on the role played by the state agency especially as it relates to the work of the federal government and accrediting agencies in assuring quality and consumer protection. Note will be made of emerging trends that shape the content and process of reviews, and distinctions among postsecondary sectors will be made to understand the variety of options available to students. This presentation will demonstrate how market- driven mechanisms and the peer review process impact and serve as the foundation for accreditation and approval processes.

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Rankings as an Indicator of Quality

by Gero Federkeil - Project Manager, Center for Higher Education (CHE), Gütersloh, Germany

In the context of a growing competition in higher education, both national and international, rankings and league tables of higher education have become a global phenomenon. The various national and international rankings serve different purposes: they respond to demands from consumers for easily interpretable information on the standing of higher education institutions; they stimulate competition among them; they provide some of the rationale for allocation of funds; and they help differentiate among different types of institutions and different programs and disciplines. Although most rankings do not have an explicit concept of quality of higher education institutions, they implicitly apply a notion of quality, i.e. what is a “good university”, by the selection and weights of their indicators.

The paper critically analysis those concepts of quality both in some national and in the two most influential global rankings, the ranking of “World class universities” made by the Shanghai Jiaotong University and the World Rankings published by the Times Higher Education Supplement. The CHE university ranking will be presented as a specific approach different from most other rankings.

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A Classical University Assessment: Challenges and Outcomes

by Prof. Dr. Habil. Alexander Fedotoff - Vice Rector of International Relations, St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia

As it is well-known a classical university is a place where one can study not only physics, chemistry and medicine, but also ancient Greek, Latin and even Sanskrit. In other words, a classical university mission is the study of the mankind’s achievements in such domains as humanities, technologies, medicine and so on. From this point of view a classical university has become in a way an educational institution of global significance and with global influence over the modern society.

It is so because our modern society is built upon definite ideas, principles, doctrines, and of course writings. All this is the strongest fundament for our civilization either Western or Eastern.

Automatically, it means that any assessment of a classical university should foresee this meaning and polygonal nature of such type of an educational institution in order to take into account all its complexity and diversity, all its background and nowadays activities.

The last institutional assessment of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” will be analyzed as a sample of a classical university assessment.

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Sense and Sensibility of Evaluators

by Eduardo Garcia Jimenez - Innovation Coordinator, ANECA Spanish Accreditation Agency, Spain

Evaluators are usually neglected as an important aspect needed to assure an effective external evaluation of programmes or institutions. In contrast, much of the quality assurance agencies’ time is dedicated to identifying criteria, guidelines and methods in evaluation and accreditation. Nevertheless, issues for external evaluations related to evaluators, such as their profiles, selection, training, naming, the ethic code they must adhere to, follow up of their work during evaluations, etc. should not be overlooked.

These issues are important to assure effective methods in external evaluations like transparency (who is responsible?), concordance between evaluators (are they achieving similar results?), traceability in the evaluation process (what evidence is the argument  based on?) as well as the evaluation criteria and procedure (what about reports?) or following the principles of the ethic code (do they reveal private information?)

How these things related to the evaluators role are carried out by ANECA are seen as strengths and weaknesses in our external evaluations and must be allowed continuing improvement.

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Academic Evaluation and Quality Development Process of the Turkish Higher Education Area

by Omer L. Gebizlioglu - Vice Rector, Ankara University

Academic evaluation and quality development (AEQD) process of the Turkish higher education area (THEA) was formally structured and initiated by an ordinance that was proclaimed in 2005 by  the  Turkish Higher Education Council (THEC). Although some very effective quality development activities and achievements were already in existence at a number of  Turkish universities then, this attempt of THEC has created a nationally widespread effort at each and every higher education institution, irrespective of how  well prepared they are,  in corcondance with the ordinance.

This paper presents the main features of  the ongoing AEQD process  at the Turkish  Universities with an emphasis on factors and conditions that affect the prospects  of quality assurance and quality culture. In this regard ;  influence of the international quality assurance standards and endeavors on AEQD  process is discussed, ways and impacts  of internal and external evaluations and assessments are expressed, and comparisons of several AEQD approaches at the institutional levels are provided, also.

Ankara University’s  stratejic planning based AEQD process is exposed, including its structural and  cultural elements, as a special case. The merits and difficulties about the  integration of strategic planning approach with quality development activities are apprised.

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An Automated Approach to Quality Assurance in Higher Education Institutions - The User Perspective

by Dr. Nicholas Harkiolakis - Director of Research, Hellenic American University, Greece & Dr. George Koutoulas - Director of Budget and Finance, Hellenic American University, Greece

Higher education institution administrators are forced to adapt to external demands for quality assurance. In response to the self assessment needs in US and Europe we developed and implemented a knowledge management tool that specifically addresses the needs of higher education institutions in terms of their self evaluation process. The tool aims at bridging the gap between the collection, handling and distribution of data by engaging the various stakeholders in a dialogue and action to improve outcomes. Conceptually the tool is focused on the six interrogatives of the English language: What, Where, When, Who, How and Why. The questions raised are grouped and addressed in three areas, Description, Assessment and Planning. The benefits of utilizing such systems and the experience gained by its use will be presented.

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Rankings as Indicators of Quality

by Prof. Ellen Hazelkorn - Dean of Applied Arts, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland

In the 21st century, a competitive global higher education market has emerged as the increasingly dominant influence on policy, and institutional and academic behaviour. Governments and institutions, alike, are seeking to enhance their reputation and status for ‘world class excellence’ – competing internationally for ‘good’ students, faculty, finance and researchers. In this context, the results of formally relatively benign benchmarking exercises have taken on increased prominence and importance, elevating the popularity and notoriety of ranking systems. Today, institutional leaders and policymakers regularly refer to national and worldwide rankings in speeches, policy strategies, mission statements and publicity material.

But do ranking systems measure quality? What influence – positive or perverse – are rankings having on higher education and policymakers? How can rankings be improved?

This paper is divided into two main parts. Part 1 will discuss the key categories of concern that have been raised internationally about rankings and league tables: technical and methodological processes, the usefulness of the results as consumer information, and comparability of complex institutions with different goals and missions. Part 2 will raise wider questions about the impact and influence of rankings on higher education policy- and decision-making and academic behaviour.

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Towards Institutional Accreditation: The Swiss Experience

by Prof. Rolf Heusser - Chair, Swiss Evaluation Agency, Switzerland

The Center of Accreditation and Quality Assurance of the Swiss Universities (OAQ) was set up in 2001 with the task to ensure and promote the quality of teaching and research at Swiss universities. On behalf of the federal and cantonal authorities and in accordance with best international practices the OAQ carries out various quality assessments (accreditation of institutions and programmes, evaluation procedures, institutional audits). The OAQ has autonomous responsibility for its operations.

The focus of the external quality assurance system in Switzerland is on institutional assessments. Periodic assessments of the internal quality assurance systems of the Swiss universities are mandatory and linked to the financing of the institutions. The OAQ has successfully carried out a first cycle of such audits in 2003 and will repeat it in 2008 on the basis of predetermined standards for internal quality assurance systems (compatible with the European standards and guidelines in that domain). The institutional assessments are supplemented by selective and voluntary programme accreditations.

So far more than 120 assessments, both at institutional and programme level, have been carried out. The evaluations of theses procedures show positive results. A new Federal law regulating the whole Swiss higher education sector is under discussion and will enter into force in 2012. According to the new law institutional accreditation will be mandatory for all higher education institutions in Switzerland.

The international cooperation is particularly relevant for the OAQ’s work. On a European level the OAQ is holding the Presidency of the European consortium for accreditation (ECA) and is full member of ENQA. The latter status is the result of positive results of an international review of the OAQ in 2006, showing that the agency is fulfilling the European standards and guidelines for trustworthy quality assurance agencies.

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The Public Interest in Quality Assurance: Experience from the UK

by Stephen Jackson - Director of Reviews, Quality Assurance Agency, UK

Since the introduction of student fees in England, in 1997, there has been an increased expectation that students should have access to information about the quality and standards of courses offered by universities. They should be in a position to make informed choices about the courses they wish to study and where they wish to study them. The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) has a remit to provide evidence of quality and standards.  This is achieved by the periodic review of universities arrangements for quality assurance and the publication of reports.  The methods of review include a specific focus on the public information provided by universities.  QAA seeks to ensure that this information is up-to-date, accurate and consistent and is available in a format that will be of use to potential students.

The public interest in quality not only applies to potential students but also to employers, both in the public and private sectors.   Employers wish to know what students learn and the skills they develop through their studies.  They also want to see a greater emphasis on the application of learning in the practical context of employment.  The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) is encouraging Universities to work more closely with employers on developing higher level skills and using more opportunities for learning in the workplace.

QAA also acknowledges that students have a direct interest in the quality of their education.  At present the review method in Scotland includes students as members of  review teams.  Similar arrangements are currently being considered in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

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Students’ Criteria in Selecting a Graduate Program: Preliminary Data from Greece

by Panagiotis Karampelas - Assistant Professor of Information Technology, Hellenic American University, Greece, Ioanna Laniti - Assistant Professor of Psychology, Hellenic American University, Greece & Despina Konstas - Staff Psychology and Adjunct Professor, Hofstra University, USA

A significant amount of research has been conducted in an effort to identify specific factors considered by students when selecting a University program. Academic administration is always interested in drawing on such findings for customizing educational programs according to students’ needs and expectations. But is there an alignment between students’ and evaluators’ perspectives on what constitutes quality in higher education? In the present study, a questionnaire was developed and distributed to University students around the country. The primary purpose was to recognize those factors University students in Greece consider important for their selection of a domestic or foreign graduate program. Data will indicate whether quality in University infrastructure, faculty and curricula are amongst the determining factors for students’ selection of a graduate University program. Data will further be interpreted within a cultural context.

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Quality Assurance and the Necessity for Reforms: The Modernization of the Hellenic Higher Education System

by Prof. Athanasios Kyriazis - Secretary for Higher Education, Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs, Greece

The modernization of the Hellenic higher education system has been a crucial issue of policy-making during the last three years. Bearing in mind the central role of higher education for the European, national and regional, social and economic progress and also for students’ personal development, we can easily understand why the qualitative upgrade of higher education is a central goal of the Lisbon Strategy and of the Bologna Process. However, it is impossible to talk about quality when a system is characterized by obsolete structures and when it is deprived of the tools which enhance efficiency, accountability, transparency and openness to international cooperation. In my presentation I intend to point out the innovations introduced by the new legislative reforms which mainly aim at promoting the quality and excellence of the Hellenic Higher Education Institutions.

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Assessing and Integrating the benefits of Study Period Abroad Programmes in International Business with Languages Undergraduate Degrees: A Case Study of The European Business School London

by Richard John Mannix - Subject Leader Marketing, European Business School London, UK

This two stage study investigated the role, assessment and integration of the Study Period Abroad (SPA) Programme at the European Business School London (EBSL) over a period of two years in order to examine a number of inter-related issues. Firstly, the study wished to determine how and why the SPA added value to the International Business undergraduate degree programme and how that value could be measured through degree programme learning outcomes and assessment systems. Secondly, it sought to identify and evaluate ways by which the SPA could be more effectively integrated throughout the degree programme.

A review of the literature in this area revealed that little had been done on the role and integration of SPA learning experiences into final year modules on multi disciplinary Bachelors degrees such as those offering business studies with languages. This gap in the literature formed the rationale for this study.

The study adopted a mixed method approach involving semi-structured depth interviews, focus groups and surveys. A variety of stakeholders in the SPA programme were questioned including members of staff, students from partner universities studying at EBSL, and EBSL students returning from their SPA semesters. The study identified and ranked the key benefits stakeholders perceived that students gained from their SPA placements. It also evaluated ways of assessing SPA learning outcomes at EBSL and was able to recommend a number of improvements to these procedures and the way in which the SPA is integrated into final year learning.

This paper should be of value to educators wishing to have a better insight into the effectiveness of SPA programmes and how universities might seek to improve the value added gained from such activities. The study would also be of use in helping academics to further knowledge in this field, providing fresh empirical evidence that could be used in advancing a sound theory of SPA development. The study recommends further research by monitoring and comparing the effectiveness of different SPA programmes approaches over time.

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The System of Accreditation and Certification in Europe and its Evaluation

by Dr.-Ing. Hans-Ulrich Mittmann - Chair, German Accreditation Council (DAR), Germany

Accreditation is used in this contribution as defined in the standard ISO/IEC 17000 as attestation of competence of conformity assessment bodies (CABs); certification is as statement of conformity with requirements. The system of accreditation and certification is aiming to remove technical barriers to trade and is promoted by the European Union.

The whole system and logic depends decisively on the proper work and competence of the national accreditation bodies (ABs). The compliance of the AB with the standard and the technical rules are checked by a peer evaluation system as operated by EA (European cooperation for accreditation), an association of the European ABs. Experts, experienced in running an AB, look at the compliance of the AB for several days. All evaluators have been trained in advance. Focus is laid on the competence of the assessors and the experts, the depths of assessment at CABs level and the CABs means to assure their competence. After a maximum period of 4 years, the evaluation will be repeated. The performance of the team is scored by several bodies. Low scores will result in the withdrawal of the evaluator.

It would be welcomed if the system of accreditation of university courses could use the same terms and could closer cooperate with the existing national AB.

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Entry Requirements for U.S. Accreditation

by Jean A. Morse - President, Middle States Commission on Higher Education, USA

Regional accreditation in the U.S. assures the public that it can have confidence in the quality of each accredited college or university, including its goals, performance, and resources. Accreditation standards are applied to each institution in the context of its own mission and goals. Institutions seeking initial accreditation receive extensive support from the accrediting agency’s staff and from independent consultants as they undergo several external reviews to determine whether they meet accreditation standards.

After an institution has been licensed by a state, it applies to become a candidate for accreditation. The next steps towards accreditation include initial document review, a staff visit, preparation by the institution of a report, visit by a team of peer evaluators, granting of official “candidacy” status, and a five year period of candidacy that leads to a final team visit and granting of full accreditation.

This paper describes the reasons for accreditation, the different types of U.S. accreditation, and the requirements and processes applied to institutions seeking initial accreditation.

Types of U.S. Accreditation

There are seven regional accreditors in the U.S.  Each accredits colleges and universities that grant undergraduate and/or graduate degrees in its own region of the U.S. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), for example, accredits over 500 institutions in the states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, plus the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and a few international locations. These regional accreditors examine the entire institution.

There are also many specialized accreditors. They accredit specific types of programs within an institution, such as law or medicine.

A third type of national accreditor accredits degree-granting and non-degree granting postsecondary institutions. Some degree-granting institutions that are not accredited by regional accreditors may be accredited by national accreditors.

In order to grant degrees in the U.S., an institution must be licensed in the state in which its corporate headquarters are located. However, the federal government is the authority for military service academies and related institutions, some of which are also regionally accredited. The requirements for licensing institutions differ greatly among states, and those state requirements are not addressed in this paper.

All of the regional, specialized, and national accreditors are non-governmental, non-profit organizations that accredit public, private non-profit, and private for-profit institutions, applying the same standards to all types of institutions. Most regional accreditors apply standards that are substantially similar, but there are some differences among these standards and processes. This paper addresses the standards and processes of MSCHE.

Although accreditation is voluntary and non-governmental, if an institution wants its students to receive federally-guaranteed loans and grants, the institution must be accredited by an agency approved by the federal government. This provides a powerful incentive for institutions to become accredited. The accreditors that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education are listed on the Department of Education's website. They include all regional accreditors and some national and specialized accreditors.

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Quis Custodiet Ipsos custodes? – Who will Guard the Guardians?

by Patricia M. O’Brien - Deputy Director, NEASC, USA

Accrediting associations in the United States are widely regarded as the guardians of academic quality in higher education. Prospective students and their families, federal and state governments, and members of the general public rely on accreditation to provide assurance that the institution meets certain standards of quality. One might reasonably ask, then, who assures the quality of the accrediting associations … who guards the guardians?

This presentation will describe the processes through which U.S. accrediting associations evaluate their effectiveness.  The U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Association (CHEA) have each established processes to “recognize” accrediting associations.  These approaches will be reviewed, with discussion of the similarities and differences between them.  In addition, the assessment mechanisms of one of the regional accrediting associations, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, will be considered.  These include survey research on the impact of accreditation as well as evaluations of the accreditation process by institutions and team members.  Finally, the implications of these quality assurance processes for the accreditation of institutions outside the United States will be addressed.

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Exchanging Quality: Trends in Global Higher Education Mobility

by Daniel Obst - Director, Membership and Higher Education Services, Institute of International Education, New York, USA

Global higher education mobility is a rapidly growing phenomenon with over 2.5 million students seeking an education outside their home country, a 41 percent increase since 1999. This rapid growth of mobility underlines the desire of students and scholars to acquire a higher education beyond national borders. These burgeoning higher education populations have put pressure on the higher education systems of many countries, both in terms of hosting increasing numbers of students and in terms of seeing a growing number of students leave the national systems.

This presentation will examine current trends in international student mobility, and explore factors that contribute to these trends. The presenter will also examine the implications of these trends at the national level and institutional level, and look beyond higher education to include skilled employment and the implications of global student mobility on this "brain exchange".

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Non-Formal Education: Bridging The Learning Gap

by Laure Hélène Onidi - Vice President, European Students' Forum (AEGEE), Belgium

Nowadays the process of gaining knowledge is not just related to formal education, but the role of Non-Formal Education is slowly becoming more significant. There is an increasing number of programmes and tools being employed in this regard, as well as a number of NGOs and platforms dealing directly with the phenomenon. These different tools, programmes and providers will be examined, and their role with regard to quality of education in several different fields will be explored. An important aspect which will then be tackled is the complementarity of Formal and Non-Formal Education, showing the need of the two going hand in hand in order to provide a holistic educational experience, while making the case for Non-Formal Education to be given an equal standing and importance to Formal 'traditional' education. A specific case study looking at the contributions of AEGEE – the European Students' Forum, as well as the EUCIS Life-Long Learning Platform in this field will then be presented. The presentation will round off by linking all these concepts with the concept of active citizenship, and how they can contribute to this in the long term.

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Assessment and Accreditation in Higher Education

by J. Michael Ortiz - President, California State University in Pomona, USA

For higher education and academia – it’s a new world order. Educators are being asked to show evidence of success, beyond the traditional indicators of student pass/fail ratios and/or student evaluations of teaching. The expectations for colleges and universities are changing rapidly. Accreditation agencies across the United States are placing a greater focus on what is learned, rather than what is taught.

In the accreditation of any learning environment, assessment must the core, the central element in the overall quality of teaching and learning in higher education. It can dramatically influence the effectiveness of student learning. Carefully designed assessment contributes directly to the way students approach their study and therefore contributes indirectly, but powerfully, to the quality of their learning.

Today’s accrediting commissions will determine whether student learning is central to the academic mission. To support that, commissions also address the capacity of the university to meet its academic goals. On that subject, the presentation will also reflect upon Cal Poly Pomona’s prioritization and recovery initiative as a means to self-identify every program on campus dependent on public funds. The initiative will bring forward centers of excellence as well as areas with a limited future. Through this process, fiscal resources will be redirected to support long term success.

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Evaluation and Accreditation of Higher Education Institutions in Bulgaria

by Prof. Ivan Panaiotov - Director, The Bulgarian National Evaluation and Accreditation Agency, Bulgaria

During the last decade the Bulgarian higher education was undergoing significant changes and reorganization as a response to the well-known challenges of the post-industrial information society namely the globalisation and the growing interference in the framework of the European Union. In addition to that a process of adaptation of the higher education to fundamental changes in intellectual and social system after the end of the former totalitarian regime occurs.            

After a brief historical recall a short description of the size and structure of the Bulgarian higher education system in the European context is presented. A particular attention on the actual state of the doctoral degree is paid.

The structure and the mechanism of functioning of the Bulgarian evaluation and accreditation agency (NEAA) are presented. The criteria compatible with the European standards, as norms expressed about desired practices, have been developed and applied for the institutional and programme accreditation and the evaluation of the projects for opening or transformation of higher education institutions (NEI). A system for the post-accreditation monitoring and control has been worked up, the basis for contacts with similar institutions and associations in Europe has been laid and the first results are in place.

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The Evaluation Philosophy in Europe and the US: Which Way to Go?

by Prof. John Panaretos - Professor, Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece

Quality Assessment in Universities as an organized process is relatively new in Europe (about 30 years old). As many other aspects in education, it is centrally controlled, either by a state agency, or by an independent agency.

In the US on the other hand, the top institutions themselves understand the need to organize the evaluation process, mainly at the Institution level.

Lately, some international comparisons have generated an interest in the media and the public in general.

I will discuss my experiences from the early developments of quality assessment at a European level and the corresponding ones in some of the top US institutions, like Berkeley and Stanford. I will point out the strengths and weaknesses of the two approaches and I will present my thoughts as to which way is best for a country without a tradition in quality assessment like Greece.

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Evaluation of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

by Prof. Dimitrios Raptopoulos - Former Dean, Veterinary School of Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

The legislation governing basic veterinary training in the European Union countries (Directives 78/1026/EEC, 78/1027/EEC and 2005/36/EC) sets out minimum training requirements for all European veterinary surgeons. The responsibility for administrating the evaluation system was assigned by the EC to the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education (EAEVE) in 1992.

From 1985 to 1989, a pilot study, designed to review and refine the scheme, was conducted in one Veterinary Faculty in each Member State. One of these Faculties was the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. At that time, certain deficiencies were identified and the Faculty made the necessary changes in the curriculum.

Around the end of 2001 the Faculty was re-evaluated. This time the few identified weaknesses were rectified and the Faculty was approved, being the first institute of Higher Education in Greece to be evaluated and approved by an external committee. At present the “List of Visited and Approved Institutions” includes 38 institutions among a total of more than 90 Faculties of Veterinary Medicine in Europe. In 2010 the Faculty will be re-evaluated again. Meanwhile, most probably the present evaluation system will have evolved into a compulsory two-stage system for approval-accreditation of all establishments responsible for veterinary training.

This presentation will summarize the process of evaluation and illustrate its impact on the structure and function of the Faculty.

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National Experience In South Eastern Europe

by Prof. Dr. Sezai Rokaj - Rector, University of Tirana, Albania

Within the great mission scope of the universities, respectively training the youth with the values of democracy and global integration, likewise mutually exchanging these values, another mission is included, the associated with their contribution towards enhancing quality of living. Quality of living is enhanced by good professionals, good researchers, by freeing the universities from the enclosed environmenmt thereby transforming them into a significant factor for the community life. 

Therefore, focusing on the theme range of this Conference, in my presentation I will introduce the following issues:

  • Removing the universities from academic scholasticism, hence making them become a community element.
  • Integrating researches into the teaching process.
  • Involvement in the communication network, selected information and joint research projects.
  • Can quality be measured? Which are the respective instruments? Can we move towards quality norming at the universities?
  • Lateral and multilateral accreditations as the best way towards diploma recognition and students’ mobilities.  

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Aiming Towards Educational Excellence

by Prof. John Thanopoulos - Professor of International Business, University of Piraeus, Greece

The University of Piraeus, a public educational institution organized according to the Greek laws, was founded in 1938 as the School for Industrial Studies.  The founding body was the Industrialists and Tradesmen Association, aiming, through this school to serve application-oriented educational objectives in business.  Given the needs of the times and after three major transformations, presently the university has nine Departments and offers a series of undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees.  

From its inception the University of Piraeus targeted its mission according to industry-specific and market oriented realities.  With about two thousand new students a year from the top 10% of the graduating elite (entering after national exams) and with a 100% terminally qualified faculty, the University of Piraeus should have little difficulty to meet the university assessment requirements that the new Greek law prescribes and to eventually embrace all the relevant international quality assessment criteria.

This presentation includes: (a) the evolution of the university within the Greek realities as they evolved in the last seventy years, (b) the steps undertaken in order to efficiently deal with the new quality assessment requirements as they emerged Europe-wide after the Bologna meetings, and, (c) some exemplary benchmarking practices at the University of Piraeus.

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A European peer review system for agencies. Reasons and prospects

by Christian Thune - Former President ENQA

The ENQA report on Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area adopted at the Bologna ministerial meeting 2005 in Bergen presents a peer review system for external quality assurance agencies – a system that is closely linked to the standards for agencies in the same report.

At an immediate political level this part of the report reflects the wish expressed by the Bologna ministers for ENQA to explore such a system. Various international developments also played a role. But the peer review system reflects also the growing awareness during the preceding years among European external quality assurance agencies that credibility in the eyes of stakeholders would in the long term be closely linked to agencies taking their own medicine - to quote the title of an ENQA workshop in early 2003. Discussions in this workshop laid the foundation for the general concepts later to be introduced in the ENQA report.

However, the actual formulation of the peer review system and the connected standards took for a main part place in an ENQA working group that finalised its contribution in late 2004.  The working group represented experiences of considerations in the ENQA board on the compliance of applicant agencies with ENQA membership regulations. It also represented experiences of external reviews of agencies such as the review of the Danish agency in 1998 and the Hungarian agency in 2000.  ENQA’s parallel discussions during 2004 with its European partners from the organisations of universities, university colleges and the students were indicative of strong stakeholder interests.

The peer review system and the standards for external quality assurance agencies can thus be presented as a reflection of a growing maturity of agencies, as influence of stakeholders, reactions to international developments and as reflecting political realities of the Bologna process.

But the standards must also stand up to the test in practical cases of external evaluation of agencies the number of which is now growing rapidly as a consequence of the standards.


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Market and Social Relevance

by Dr. Pal Veres - Head of Higher Education Department, Ministry of Education, Hungary

After 17 years transition period in Hungary and a huge quantitative development in the HE, we are at a turning point. Reaching the access rate 50 % of the relevant age-group to HE, we have to focus more on the qualitative development on system level and also on institutional level.

Why is quality the first preference?

  • As a consequence of globalisation and ICT, HEI-s have to face hard international competition for the (best) students, teachers, facilities and resources.
  • As a consequence of supply oriented labour market, students have to face hard competition for a proper job.
  • LLL is now a general frame of learning and teaching and needs new link between labour market, employer,  HEI-s and students.
  • Lisbon agenda and the Bologna-process in Europe is a big challenge to change structure, content, and methods of teaching and learning and to adjust to labour market needs.

Measures to enhance the quality of the HE in Hungary

  • Establishing a new steering body of stakeholders.
  • Involving employers into preparing new programmes.
  • Vocational training contribution of employers to organise and fund practical training
  • Linking funding of HEI-s to the labour market success (carrier survey).
  • Introducing of accreditation of maximum capacity of HEI-s.
  • Free competition of students for student places.
  • Enhancing of requirement against teacher personal.
  • New Hungary Development plan – action programme for quality development.
  • Quality award for HEI-s.
  • Establishing Regional Knowledge Centres depending on the HEI-s
  • Three years funding agreement between HEI-s and the Ministry of Education and Culture.

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Assessing the Assessors

by Dr. Anthony John Vickers - Reader, Department of Electronic Systems & Engineering, Essex University, UK

The quality of higher education is maintained, as in all levels of education, by robust assessment of the learning outcomes of students which sits in the middle of the natural cycle of education of learning - assessment - feedback. The quality assurance of higher education involves either monitoring the actual activities in this cycle or monitoring the policies and processes involved or some mixture of both. An autonomous higher education institution must maintain both quality and quality assurance but who should assess that it is doing so? If an outside agency is involved, like the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) in the UK, who should assess their performance. The chain of assessors must end somewhere but where? This presentation will explore the relationship between the assessed and the assessor at all levels from the student/teacher to the HEI/QAA and provide some thoughts on where the chain should end.

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Evaluating the Evaluators. Meta-Evaluation in Theory and in Practice

by Don F. Westerheijden - Senior Research Associate, Center for Higher Education Policy Studies, University of Twente, Netherlands

Quality assurance is organised distrust: stakeholders want to see what higher education institutions are doing rather than trust them to do the right things. But distrust goes further: how do stakeholders know that evaluators are evaluating in the right way? This contribution will treat some theoretically and practically how the ‘right’ functioning of evaluators is assured at different levels. My focus will be on quality assurance schemes in Europe.

I start with how peers are selected, trained, guided etc. in advance in different quality assurance schemes, and how (if at all) they are evaluated after the fact. The next level is how quality assurance agencies are guided in advance, and how they are recognised and re-recognised by state governments. The third level consists of current debates and arrangements at the European level to establish international credibility of quality assurance agencies, such as the ENQA Standards and Guidelines, the European Register of quality assurance agencies, and moves towards mutual recognition of evaluation judgements.

Theoretical considerations at these levels are about peer review, indicators and the biases of both types of evaluation, and about governance issues for agencies, without forgetting the ultimate question: does this help to establish trust in higher education in the eyes of students?

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Quality Assurance: Is this the Future?

by Peter Williams - President, ENQA, UK

Quality assurance is a journey not a destination. It needs to be undertaken with clear purposes in mind, and the methods and instruments chosen must be fit for those purposes. As it is a journey it cannot stand still; agencies must be constantly reviewing and evaluating what they are trying to achieve, whether they are achieving it, how they could do so better, and their future directions. Quality assurance must never become a sterile, static, repetitive set of bureaucratic procedures.

One possible evolutionary  journey for a quality assurance system might involve development from a programme-based inspection model, focused on compliance with detailed external requirements, to an institutionally-based audit model, exploring ways of improving both the structural and the pedagogic functioning of a university or unit within it. The ultimate intended destination (which, of course, will not be reached) would be strong, autonomous, self-confident and trusted higher education institutions, working to provide the best learning opportunities for their students, populated by academic staff who see the need to assure the quality of their own work as an integral and fundamental part of their professional responsibilities.

Is this vision desirable or feasible? What are the alternatives, given the costs in time and money of establishing and running quality assurance agencies?

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Assessing Education Quality in Regional Public Universities. Lessons from the Past, Steps to the Future.

by Ass. Professor Achilleas Zapranis - Assistant Professor of Financial Engineering at the Department of Accounting & Finance, University of Macedonia of Economics & Social Sciences, Greece

Not few examples exist internationally of comparative small regional Universities displaying exceptional results when adopting quality assessing procedures. Could we find one of them in Greece? At the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki, Greece we try to combine the existing rigorous law framework provided by the state with the continuous need for accordance with international academic quality standards. Not an easy task.

University of Macedonia, counting today fifty years of continuous operational life, has some years now adopted internal assessing quality procedures according to European University Association standards. Our case is a small and versatile University offering both bachelor and graduate programs in the areas of economics, business, applied informatics, international relations and education policy. University of Macedonia consists of a down town campus in Thessaloniki and newly developed premises in two other cities in northern Greece. Highly regarded and well respected in the whole country, attracts some of the best students for all of his programs. International collaborations offer important knowledge about University operations. Precious experience is also derived from other Universities in Greece. Neighboring to the greatest University of the southeastern Europe, namely the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, offered us a lot, especially in early years.

This presentation will focus on the way we adopted, to measure our procedures and the output we came across with. We will also refer to decisions already taken in order to apply the recently adopted law framework without losing the momentum gained from actions already done to quality assessment direction. To reach that end we start by providing some descriptive data referring to University of Macedonia and the academic environment in Greece. Further more we will present results from the internal assessment conducted at the University of Macedonia and the precious conclusions reached. Proposals and thoughts for the collective try to apply widely accepted quality assessment criteria will follow.

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