National Development Programme Bulgaria 2030 envisages increasing the coherence between the needs of businesses and society, on one hand, and programmes in higher education and vocational education and training, on the other hand, which to remain a key aspect of policies. Closer cooperation and communication between the private and public sectors will be encouraged in the learning process and in research activities. It is expected these activities also to be indispensable in improving the quality of higher education, enhancing their role in generating innovative research and stimulating the relevance of curricula in a global context.
The Higher Education Act says that the state shall provide conditions for free development of higher education and conditions of access to higher education by developing and implementing national policy for the development of the higher education and guaranteeing the academic autonomy of the higher education institutions and also taking care for the quality of the preparation of specialists and research.
The responsibility for Quality Assurance in Higher Education is of the Higher Educational Institutions. For this purpose, they apply internal system of assessment and maintenance of the quality of education and of the academic staff. The Academic board is the management body for the education and scientific activity of each higher education institution that approves this system and exercise control over its implementation and improvement. The Rectors prepare and propose for approval by the Academic board the annual report of the higher education establishment, the annual report of financial and physical indicators of the higher education establishment, as well as the results of the functioning of the internal system for assessment and maintenance of the quality of education. The Students Council has the right to participate with its representatives in the observation of the internal system and also in development of questions for students’ opinion polling.
A specialised state body for evaluation, accreditation and control of the quality of the activities, executing by the Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs), is the National Evaluation and Accreditation Agency (NEAA) within the Council of Ministers. NEAA evaluates projects for opening and transformation of higher education institutions, main units, branches, units of higher education institutions territorially located elsewhere, professional fields and specialties of the regulated professions, and performs institutional and programme accreditation, as well as post-accreditation monitoring.
Approaches and Methods for Quality Assurance
The objective of the internal system of assessment and maintenance of the quality of education and of the academic staff is to control, maintain and manage the quality of education in the offered areas of the higher education and professional fields, as well as of the academic staff. The functions and the structure of the system and the procedure of study of students’ opinion and the way of announcement of its results are settled by the Rules for operation of the HEIs. The student's opinion polls shall be at least once in an academic year.
The activities of the NEAA aim to stimulate and control the HEIs, they to ensure and improve the quality of the education offered by them, as well as to conduct it in compliance with the standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the European higher education area. The accreditation results are taken into account when forming the policy of the state toward the higher education establishment.
The NEAA assesses the projects for opening and transformation of higher education establishment, faculty, branch and college, as well as for opening professional branches and specialities from the regulated professions.
The accreditation is institutional and programme. The Institutional accreditation is based on an assessment of how the higher education institution as an organization accomplishes its mission and goals, and on the implementation of quality assurance standards and guidelines in the European Higher Education Area.
The institutional accreditation is a result of the evaluation of:
- the way the HEI conducts its activities and fulfils its goals as an organization;
- the effectiveness with which the HEI controls, maintains and improves the quality of education in the offered areas of higher education and professional fields;
Subject to assessment during institutional accreditation is the effectiveness of:
- he internal educational quality assessment and maintenance system;
- the procedures for approval, monitoring and updating of the educational plans and programs;
- the procedures for taking actions in regard to and on the occasion of the results of the program accreditation, as well as of other external independent evaluations;
- the overall management and control of the evaluation procedures in the HEI;
- the management of the system for credit accumulation and transfer;
- the management of the cooperation with other HEIs and organizations;
- the maintenance, management and development of the physical facilities of the HEIs;
- the faculty scientific research and artistic and creative activities and students’ participation in it;
The initial institutional accreditation assessment aims to verify:
- the property necessary for carrying out the activities set by the Act;
- the functioning of the internal system of evaluation and maintenance of the quality of training and academic staff;
- the profile and qualifications of the academic staff;
- the ensured logistics and facilities of the educational process;
- other criteria related to quality assurance standards and guidelines in the European higher education area
The program accreditation is a result of the evaluation of the quality of education offered in a specific professional field in a primary unit and/or a branch of the HEI, of a major of the regulated professions list, or of a scientific major.
NEAA establishes the accreditation and evaluation criteria in compliance with the standards and the guidelines of the HE Act and state requirements.
The NEAA carries out post-accreditation monitoring and control in accordance with the procedure specified in the Rules on the activity of the NEAA on the ability of the HEI and its core units and affiliates to provide high quality education and research through the internal system of quality assessment and maintenance;
One of the criteria for determining the transfers from the state budget provided for support to HEIs is based on complex assessment on the quality of education and its accordance with the needs of the labour market, formed on the base of criterion, as defined by an act of The Council of Ministers, and including the results of the accreditation assessment of the HEI.
The complex assessment on the quality of education and its accordance with the needs of the labour market is based on indicators (organized in three groups: study process, research and realisation and relation with the labour market) with the respective weight, and values defined according to methodology of the Rating system of the HEIs in Bulgaria, administrated by the Ministry of Education and Science as of 31 October of the preceding year for which the funds are related.
The assessment and the accreditation, as well as the budget transfers aim to stimulate the HEIs to develop their potential and also to enhance and maintain the quality of the education.
Higher Education Act https://www.mon.bg/upload/22058/zkn_VO_izm25022020.pdf
Decree № 328/2015 of the Council of Ministers for defining the transfers from the state budget to the higher educational institutions for the costs of education according to the complex assessment on the quality of education and its accordance with the needs of the labour market https://www.mon.bg/upload/21868/pms328_2015_izm3101.2020.pdf
Statute of the National Evaluation and Accreditation Agency https://www.neaa.government.bg/images/files/PRAVILNIK_za_dejnostta_na_NAOA__BG_Jul_2013.pdf