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Quality assurance in higher education

Czechia

11.Quality assurance

11.2Quality assurance in higher education

Last update: 6 February 2024

Evaluation of tertiary professional education proceeds according to Education Act and is similar to that of schools at lower levels of education, see the part on Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education. For specific conditions for tertiary professional school including accreditation, see following sections (Institutions responsible for evaluation in tertiary professional education and Evaluation in tertiary professional education).

Evaluation, quality assurance and accreditation in the area of higher education is organised differently and complies with the Higher Education Act. For more, see the sections below (Institutions responsible for evaluation in higher education and Evaluation in higher education).

 

Responsible bodies

 

Institutions responsible for evaluation in tertiary professional education

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, the Czech School Inspectorate and the regions participate in the evaluation of the education system from nursery schools to tertiary professional schools.

Each tertiary professional school (vyšší odborná škola) stipulates its own educational programme, but the programme has to be submitted to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports for accreditation (in case of healthcare and medical fields of study with previous consent of the Ministry of Health and in the case of the educational programme in the area of security services with the previous approval of the Ministry of Interior). The Ministry of Education gives accreditation on the basis of a recommendation of the Accreditation Commission for Tertiary Professional (Non-university) Education, whose 21 members are appointed and removed by the Minister of Education and are professionals selected from higher education institutions, tertiary professional schools and the world of work. They are appointed for a six-year term. Internal organisation of the Accreditation Commission is stipulated by a statute issued by Ministry of Education and published in the Bulletin of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (in Czech).

External evaluation of tertiary professional schools is provided by the Czech School Inspectorate systematically, similarly to external evaluation at lower levels of education.

School heads of tertiary professional schools are responsible for internal evaluation of these schools in a similar way as school heads at internal evaluation at lower levels of education.

 

Institutions responsible for evaluation in higher education

 

Institutions responsible for accreditation and external evaluation in higher education

According to the 2016 amendment to Higher Education Act, the National Accreditation Bureau for Higher Education (NAB) is responsible for the quality of higher education and comprehensive evaluation of educational, scientific, research, developmental, innovative, artistic and other creative activities of higher education institutions (vysoké školy). The Bureau grants the authorisation to provide accredited activities, evaluates activities of higher education institutions and the quality of all accredited activities and publishes the results. A higher education institution can also at its own expense assure evaluation by a generally recognised evaluation agency, i.e. an agency which is recorded in the EQAR register or is a member of the association ENQA. The higher education institution itself decides whether to submit the results of this evaluation to the NAB (e.g. in the case of application for institutional accreditation). Some control and other related activities are performed by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.

 

The National Accreditation Bureau for Higher Education

The executive body of the National Accreditation Bureau is the Council of NAB which has 15 members and is composed of chairperson, two vice-chairpersons, and other members. The greater independency of the new Bureau requires for the chairperson and the vice-chairpersons of the Council not to execute any remunerated or non-remunerated function at any higher education institution, nor to be in an employment or other similar relation with a higher education institution (e.g. they cannot provide counselling or consultation services to the higher education institution). One member of the council is a student. Members of the NAB including the chairperson and vice-persons are appointed by the Government of the Czech Republic on the proposal of the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports for the six-year term of office with the exception of one member-student who is appointed for two years. Proposals to the Minister in the case of nine persons are submitted by the representation of higher education institutions, i.e. the Council of Higher Education Institutions and Czech Rector’s Conference. Proposals for other five persons including the chairperson are submitted to the Minister by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, other central authorities of the state administration, professional chambers, employers' organisations or other persons or bodies which carry out, support or use educational or creative activities of higher education institutions or their results. A member of the Bureau from the student community is proposed to the Minister by the Council of Higher Education Institutions. Only distinguished individuals, widely recognised persons of integrity and professional authority may become members of the Accreditation Bureau. They are independent in performing their function. Their performance is set out in the Statute of the National Accreditation Bureau for Higher Education, which was approved by the Government and is available to the public.

Counselling bodies of the NAB are the Evaluation Commissions, appointed for each application for accreditation. Their members can be appointed only from persons registered in the List of Evaluators. The List of Evaluators is administered by the NAB. The List is broken down by areas of education. Only a generally distinguished professional authority in a given area of education or a student can be registered in the List (a member of the Evaluation Commission is always also one student). A person can be included in the List of Evaluators:

  • on the basis of proposal of the Ministry of Education or other central administration authority, body of the representation of higher education institutions or professional organisation or
  • if he/she responds to the call of the NAB published on the web site of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and shows an interest to participate in the activities of Evaluation Commissions.

A person is registered in the List of Evaluators if he/she fulfils conditions set by the Council of the NAB and after it has been discussed with the bodies of the representation of higher education institutions, the registration is for a period of six years. The List of Evaluators is publicly available on the web site of the Ministry of Education.

The activities of the NAB are materially, administratively and financially provided under the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.

The NAB in particular:

  • decides on institutional accreditations, accreditations of study programmes, accreditations of habilitation procedures or procedures for the appointment of a professor;
  • monitors compliance with legal regulations when carrying out accredited activities;
  • carries out external evaluation of educational, creative and other relating activities of higher education institutions if the Minister requests so or if the NAB finds serious reasons for extraordinary evaluation;
  • issues statements on granting a state permission to operate as a private higher education institution in Czechia and to a type of higher education institution (university or non-university type);
  • it also assesses and issues opinions on other matters relating to higher education submitted to it by the Minister.

The board of NAB decides on all matters falling within the competence of the Accreditation Bureau, unless otherwise provided by the Act on Higher Education Institutions. Among other things, following are appropriate to the board.

 

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports

The Act on Budgetary Rules authorise the Ministry of Education as a provider of funds from the state budget to execute many control activities, primarily to control the management of public higher education institutions and also the private ones if they receive resources from the state budget. The above mentioned and other related activities of the Ministry are described in the section Accreditation and External Evaluation in Higher Education.

 

Bodies responsible for internal evaluation in higher education

Amendment to the Higher Education Act gives more autonomy to a higher education institution (vysoká škola) within the system of quality assurance and internal evaluation of quality and at the same time imposes more obligations on higher education institution than it had before the adoption of the amendment. The system of quality assurance and internal evaluation is determined by the higher education institution itself, the general requirements are given by legislation.

The obligations and competences at public higher education institutions lie mainly on the Scientific Board of a Public Higher Education Institution, the Scientific Board of Faculties and the new self-government body – Internal Evaluation Board. According to the Act on Higher Education Institutions, a public higher education institution establishes this board by its statute. In the event that a public higher education institution does not have an institutional accreditation, the powers of this board may be exercised by the Scientific Boards of this Higher Education Institution. Similar conditions apply to state higher education institutions. In the case of a private higher education institutions, the bodies exercising those powers are determined by the internal regulations of the private higher education institution. However, if private institutions apply for institutional accreditation, they must also set up an internal evaluation board. The Scientific Board of a public higher education institution has also some competencies within the accreditation, some of which are entrusted to the faculty Scientific Board of a Faculty. At the same time, the Act reinforces also the responsibilities of guarantors of study programmes. The act requires public higher education institutions to establish an audit division and control division and carry out an internal financial audit.

Internal evaluation board approves a proposal of rules of the system for quality assurance, manages the process of internal evaluation of quality and performs other related activities.

Scientific board of public higher education institution performs a number of functions in the area of institutional accreditation, internal approval of study programmes, accreditation for habilitation procedure or procedure for the appointment of a professor, and quality assurance and internal evaluation of quality.

Scientific board of a faculty fulfills competencies in the area of proposals of study programmes, accreditation of study programmes, and accreditation of habilitation procedure or procedures for appointment of a professor.

A detailed list of the activities of individual councils and information of the appointment of their members are given in the section Internal administration and governance in higher education in Chapter 2.

 

The guarantor of a study programme

The higher education institution appoints guarantors of study programmes from among its academic staff in line with the rules set out in its internal regulations. Guarantors are also subject to the provisions of the Government Regulation on Standards for Accreditation in Higher Education, which regulates in great detail the activities and qualifications of guarantors for all three types of study programmes (Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral) and for both profiles of study programmes (academically focused and professionally focused).

The guarantor mainly:

  • coordinates the content preparation of a study programme;
  • supervises quality of its realisation;
  • evaluates it;
  • develops it further on.

 

Approaches and methods for quality assurance

 

Evaluation in tertiary professional education

Accreditation and external evaluation in tertiary professional education

 

Accreditation

The education programme is determined by each tertiary professional school (vyšší odborná škola) itself, but is subject to accreditation by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (in the case of medical specialisation with prior consent of the Ministry of Health and in the case of education programme in security services with prior consent of the Ministry of the Interior). The Ministry of Education grants it on the basis of the opinion of the Accreditation Commission for Tertiary Professional Education. Accreditation of an education programme is a prerequisite for recording the field of study in the Register of Schools and School Facilities and thus providing instruction, examinations and granting a graduate title. The conditions for accreditation are regulated by the Education Act and the related Decree on Tertiary Professional Education.

The applicant submits the application for accreditation of the education programme to the Ministry of Education, which forwards it to the Accreditation Commission. On the basis of the Formal Framework for the Assessment of Educational Programmes of Tertiary Professional Education, the Accreditation Commission assesses the educational programme from the content and the professional perspective and informs the Ministry about its position. Accreditation is granted for the period equal to the maximum of the double of the length of education in the day form of study (i.e. 6 or 7 years). The validity of accreditation can be prolonged repeatedly. The accreditation request should contain requirements set by the Decree on Tertiary Professional Education:

  • identifying information
  • draft educational programme
  • documents on professional ensuring of the instruction

 

External evaluation

External evaluation of all tertiary professional schools included in the Register of Schools and School facilities is provided systematically, similarly to external evaluation of schools at lower educational levels, by the Czech School Inspectorate.

 

Internal evaluation in tertiary professional education

For approaches and methods for quality assurance at tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy) by internal evaluation, which are similar to those at lower educational levels, see Internal Evaluation of Schools in the part on early childhood and school education

 

Evaluation in higher education

Accreditation and external evaluation in higher education

The quality of higher education and general appraisal of educational and scientific, research, development, art and other creative activities of higher education institutions (vysoké školy) is under the responsibility of the National Accreditation Bureau for Higher Education (NAB). The condition of the accreditation are set by the Higher Education Act and the Government Regulation on Standards for Accreditation in Higher Education.

Amendment to the Higher Education Act puts newly a great emphasis on the fact that the institution itself is to establish a high quality system for quality assurance and internal evaluation. The NAB will observe how and if it is well adjusted system when considering the application on institutional accreditation as well as other accredited activities.

 

Accreditation

Accreditation of a study programme is granted for a period of ten years at maximum from the day of the legal force of the decision. In case of the rejection of the application for the accreditation, the higher education institution can submit a new application for the given or similar study programme but no sooner than after two years. The validity of the accreditation can be prolonged repeatedly. While providing an accredited study programme, the higher education institution can apply for accreditation of its extension. If a study programme is not accredited, it is not possible to enrol students, organise instruction and examinations or grant academic titles.

Institutional accreditation means that the higher education institution itself can decide on the implementation of individual study programmes in the relevant area(s) of education (according to the Government Regulation on Educational Areas in Higher Education). It is granted for a period of ten years or five years if it is awarded for an area or areas of education for which the previous latest application of the higher education institution was rejected. If a higher education institution has not the institutional accreditation and its application for granting the institutional accreditation for one or more educational areas was rejected, it can submit a new application for granting the institutional accreditation no sooner than after two years. The higher education institution with the institutional accreditation can during the period of validity of the institutional accreditation apply for its extension for other educational area or areas or for other type or types of study programmes within the area it has already the institutional accreditation. If the application was rejected, the institution can submit a new application on extension of institutional accreditation no sooner than after two years.

The accreditation of habilitation procedure or procedure for the appointment of a professor is granted for a period of ten years at maximum.

An essential part of the application for accreditation of a study programme for regulated professions is the consent of the relevant recognition body that the graduates of the study programme will be adequately prepared to perform the regulated profession. The list of regulated professions and activities together with the relevant recognition bodies is given in the Database of regulated professions and professional activities. The regulated occupations also include teacher, educational childcare staff, special educational needs specialist, psychologist, teacher responsible for leisure activities, teacher's assistant and coach. In this case it is MEYS that gives the consent. At the end of 2017, MEYS submitted a methodical document Meeting Study Programmes Framework Requirements Allowing Teachers to Practice Regulated Occupations. The Requirements should harmonise basic components of categories studied. Part of the application is a study plan – i.e. a list of the subjects and their inclusion in prescribed study components with credits and hours. The ratios of the study components are expressed in percent, credits and hours according to the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System.

If the NAB finds serious drawbacks during the realisation of accredited activities, according to their nature it decides:

  • on restriction or withdrawal of the accreditation of the study programme;
  • on restriction or withdrawal of the institutional accreditation for the educational area;
  • on suspension or withdrawal of the accreditation of habilitation procedure or procedure for the appointment of a professor;
  • and on restriction or termination of the authorisation to deliver a study programme on the basis of the institutional accreditation.

Restriction of the accreditation of a study programme means to impose a ban on enrolling further applicants to the given study programme. Restriction of the institutional accreditation as the case means termination of the right to organise study programmes in a given educational area or areas and extending the existing study programmes in this educational area or areas. If the reasons for restriction or deferral of the accreditation disappear, the NAB cancels the accepted measure.

 

The external evaluation of higher education institutions

The NAB executes the external evaluation of educational, creative and relating activities of higher education institutions either on the basis of initiative from the Minister or if it finds serious reasons for an exceptional evaluation. During the evaluation it can use the results of an internal quality evaluation of activities of the higher education institution and results of possible evaluation made by a generally recognised evaluating agency. The NAB would also take into account this international evaluation when considering the application for institutional accreditation.

 

Control and other activities of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is entitled to control the management of public higher education institutions and also private ones if they are allocated resources from the state budget, according to the Act on Budgetary Rules, Act on Inspection, and Act on Financial Control). It is also responsible for requiring from public higher education institution a report on internal evaluation, an annual report on their activities and an annual report on the management of resources. If the resources were granted to private higher education institution, these duties also apply to them. The control of the financial management of public higher education institutions (financial audit) is a part of the overall control activities (plan) carried out by the Control, Supervision and Audit Department of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. The control activity is focused on the results of the financial management of higher education institutions and on the receipt and use of public funds provided to higher education institution from the state budget for educational, research, scientific and art activities and additional funding of the EU programmes. When preparing this plan, the results of past controls by the Ministry of Education must be taken into account as well as the requirements of specialised ministerial departments and possible incentives of the public and/or higher education institutions. Controls should be carried out at each higher education institution each 3 to 5 years. Apart from the Ministry of Education the management of public resources is checked also by the Principal Audit Office and financial authorities.

Other activities of the Ministry of Education:

  • registers the internal regulations of higher education institutions (with the exception of state HEIs), while checking the correctness of compliance with legal regulations;
  • grants state consent to the operation of a private higher education institution and a permit or authorisation to provide foreign higher education in Czechia and controls compliance with legal regulations in this area;
  • maintains some registers stipulated by law;
  • discusses and evaluates the strategic plans of public and private higher education institutions and annual plans for their implementation; in the case of state higher education institutions, this function is performed by departmental ministries;
  • annually prepares and publishes an annual report on the state of higher education (since 2012, joint annual reports on state and the development of the education have been issued for all educational levels) and the Strategic Plan of the Ministry for Higher Education.

A complete list of activities of the Ministry of Education – Responsibility of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in Chapter 2.

 

Internal evaluation in higher education

In addition to quality assurance and internal quality evaluation itself, the higher education institutions (vysoké školy) also ensure internal activities within the accreditation and elaborate the annual reports and strategic plans. Most requirements are the same for public, state and private higher education institutions (possible differences are emphasised in the text below; unless otherwise stated, the information applies to both public and state higher education institutions).

 

Quality assurance and internal evaluation of quality

The Higher Education Act imposes on higher education institution (since 1 September 2016) a duty to introduce and maintain a system of quality assurance of educational, creative and relating activities and system of internal evaluation of quality of educational, creative and relating activities. For the public higher education institutions, the Higher Education Act include the assurance and internal evaluation of quality into the important autonomous activities. The Act also distributes the responsibilities between bodies of the HEI. Rules for quality assurance and internal evaluation of quality are set by a public higher education institution in its internal regulation (specific internal regulations are not prescribed for private schools). The framework for this internal regulation is set in the Higher Education Act and its two implementation regulations: The Government Regulation on Standards for Accreditation in Higher Education and the Government Regulation on Areas of Education in Higher Education.

The quality assurance of educational, creative and related activities includes the application of the intentions and procedures of the higher education institutions in this area, based on:

  1. the definition of the mission and strategy of the higher education institution;
  2. the definition of the duties of head academics and members of the bodies of the higher education institution and its components in relation to the quality of educational, creative and related activities;
  3. the organisation of the higher education institution, the determination of the competence, powers and duties of the bodies, head academics and members of the bodies of the higher education institution and its components;
  4. financial, personnel and information resources for the performance of educational and related creative activities;
  5. cooperation and mutual relations of the higher education institution with other higher education institutions, with public research institutions and other legal entities engaged in research, experimental development or innovations, with employers of graduates of higher education institution, with entrepreneurs operating in the industrial and commercial sphere, with business associations and other persons or bodies carrying out, supporting or using the educational or creative activity of higher education institutions or their results;
  6. standards and procedures for internal evaluation of the quality of educational, creative and related activities of the higher education institution,
  7. corrective and preventive measures and measures taken for improvement;
  8. internal documents and records related to quality assurance of educational, creative and related activities of the higher education institution.

Internal evaluation consists mainly:

  • in the application of standards and procedures of internal evaluation of quality (set by the internal regulation – see above);
  • in preparation of a report on internal evaluation of quality which describes achieved quality outputs of the higher education institution in the educational and creative activity and measures taken for removing possible drawbacks (prepared within the terms set by the internal regulations of the higher education institution, but at least once every five years, it is updated annually by an appendix describing changes achieved in quality and control measures; framework results are published in the annual activity report);
  • in making available the report on internal evaluation end its supplements to bodies and members of bodies of the higher education institution and its parts, to the National Accreditation Bureau for Higher Education and to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports;
  • in publishing general results of evaluation in the annual report on activities of the higher education institution.

 

Internal processes within accreditation

The intention to submit the application for accreditation is approved by the Scientific Board of the public higher education institution, or the Scientific Board of the Faculty, private institutions determine the competencies of their bodies themselves. Granting the institutional accreditation to a higher education institution confirms its competence to create and carry out a given type or types of study programmes (Bachelor, Master, Doctoral) in a given area or areas of education. A higher education institution sets the details of the procedure for internal approval of its study programmes (internal accreditation) in its internal regulation.

The basic condition for granting accreditation is a functioning system of quality assurance and internal evaluation of quality. In case a higher education institution applies for the institutional accreditation or accreditation of a study programme , the Higher Education Act further obliges it to elaborate the so called self-evaluating report, which encompasses educational area/areas for which the institution applies for accreditation. The report describes and evaluates the fulfilment of the requirements under the relevant standards for accreditation.

 

Annual reports and strategic plans

Every year, all higher education institutions have to prepare an annual report on its activities, submit it to the Ministry of Education and publish it. A public higher education institution (and private provided it received subsidy on its activities) also has to submit an annual economic report. The date and the form is set by the Minister of Education. The framework structure of an annual report on activities of a higher education institution is available (in Czech) at the website of the Ministry as well as the instruction for processing the annual economic report (in Czech). In the case of a public higher education institution, both reports are approved by the Academic Senate and then discussed by the Board of Trustees.

The annual report on HEI's activities comprises:

  • a survey of activities in a calendar year
  • the general outcomes of evaluation of its activities
  • changes in internal rules and changes in the bodies of higher education institution
  • other items set by the board of trustees

The institution's annual economic report comprises:

  • an annual balance and an appraisal of basic data
  • the findings of the audit of the balance (if this took place)
  • a survey of incomes and expenditures by sources
  • the development and final state of funds
  • the state and movement of property and obligations
  • total expenses broken down into complementary activities and others

Higher education institutions are also obliged to prepare, discuss with the Ministry of Education and publish the strategic plan for educational and creative activities of the higher education institutions (usually once every five years) and annual plans for its implementation. The exact date and form is determined by the Minister of Education. The strategic plan is decisive for the amount of contributions and subsidies provided to the higher education institution and also for granting state approval to operate as a private higher education institution. The results of the work of a higher education institution are measured by this plan. It builds on and further develops, in the conditions of the institution, the framework given by the Strategic Plan of the Ministry for Higher Education, which, together with its annual implementation plan, is prepared by the Ministry.

The annual activity report, annual management report, strategic plan must be publicly available. The conditions for state higher education institutions are similar to those for public higher education institutions. However, the competence of the Ministry / Minister of Education is exercised by departmental Ministries / Ministers. The board of trustees also does not work at state universities.