Quality assurance in higher education was established for the first time by virtue of Law 3374/2005. A single, nationwide ongoing evaluation process is established, was aiming at recording, analyzing and systematically assessing teaching and research work, study programmes and other services of Higher Education Institutes (HEIs). The same Law established the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education (ADIP) which is the competent body for implementing Quality Assurance in Higher Education.
By Law 4009/2011 “Structure, function, quality assurance for studies and internationalization of Higher Education Institutes”, Greece acquires a national accreditation system supporting HEI, in order to develop stable programmes of steadily increasing academic and professional quality. Accreditation is an external evaluation process based on specific, predetermined, internationally accepted and pre-published quantitative and qualitative criteria and indicators, all harmonized with the Principles and Guidelines for Quality Assurance of the European Area of Higher Education (ESG 2015).
ADIP has been renamed Hellenic Authority for Higher Education (H.A.H.E.) under Law 4653/2020.
Hellenic Authority for Higher Education (H.A.H.E.)
H.A.H.E is an autonomous administrative body supervised by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. Its mission is to assure high quality in higher education. In this framework, H.A.H.E.:
- contributes to the development and implementation of the national strategy for higher education and to the allocation of grants for Higher Education Institutions and
- evaluates and certifies the quality of HEI operation.
H.A.H.E. has to ensure the transparency of its operation. It publishes on its website the activities conducted and the decisions made in the context of its mission.
In order to fulfill its mission, H.A.H.E.:
- maintains an integrated information system interconnected with the HEIs and the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs; this system aims to extract and manage the data necessary to achieve its objectives.
- participates and/or collaborates in/with international networks, bodies or organisations that carry out activities related to its mission. H.A.H.E. takes into account and implements standards and guidelines set by the European Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA).
The Board of H.A.H.E.
The Board is composed of the President, the Vice-President and professors of Higher Education Institutions of Greece or abroad.
Regarding H.A.H.E.’s mission for developing and implementing national strategy for Higher education, the Board makes the following proposals to the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs for:
- the National Strategy program for Higher Education,
- the programme agreements between the Ministry and the H.E.I.,
- the establishment, merging, division, abolition, renaming of HEIs and their individual departments/units,
- for suggestions to assure continuous high quality in higher education,
- for the proposals and measures to enhance HEI’s internationalisation.
Regarding H.A.H.E.’s mission for allocation of public grants to HEIs, the Board:
- makes proposals for the allocation of the annual overall grant budget to HEIs to the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs; twenty percent (20%) is allocated based on each institution quality and performance indicators;
- proposes the allocation of staff in HEIs to the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs;
- ensures the transparency of the HEIs grant criteria and indicators;
- collects and analyses from the HEI the data necessary for achieving its objectives
- systematically monitors HEI's graduates' transition to the labour market,
- entrusts researches and studies related to Authority's work,
- recommends to the Minister the current criteria and allocation of grants,
- excersises supervisory control over the operation of all H.A.H.E. departments, committees, working groups and other bodies.
The Board for Evaluation and Certification (SAP) of H.A.H.E.
The Board for Evaluation and Certification is composed of the Chairman of the Board of the Authority (H.A.H.E.), members of the Academic/Research Staff of HEIs, from various academic fields, a student representative and a Chambers' representative.
The Board for Evaluation and Certification:
- evaluates the HEIs and their individual academic and research departments and certifies if they meet the selection criteria for first, second and third cycle programs,
- certifies every five years (at the latest) the quality of:
- the internal quality assurance systems of HEIs;
- the curricula of the three cycles of higher education, lifelong learning, distance learning, e-learning and the cooperation programs with other educational or research institutions in Greece or abroad.
- certifies the new curricula prior to their implementation following relevant request by the HEI or academic unit.
- performs thematic evaluations of HEIs and their individual academic units related to internationalisation strategy, gender equality, access for persons with disabilities, integration of graduates into the labour market, HEI's environmental footprint, ensuring academic environment, the development of e-learning and lifelong learning programs, the development of digital skills for the students and HEI staff.
- publishes a certification and evaluation guide on the implementation on the HEI evaluation and certification procedures.
Additionally, the Board for Evaluation and Certification:
- sets up, plans and coordinates the External Evaluation and Certification Committees (EEAP)
- keeps up and updates the Registry of Independent Experts and the Registry of Students consisting of students members of the Quality Assurance Units (MODIP) of HEIs;
- collects the necessary HEI's data in collaboration with MODIP and keeps up the evaluation and certification register;
- carries out studies and researches related to the Authority's mission;
- supports the HEIs and their individual academic and administrative units in designing quality assurance and certification procedures,
- establishes, organizes, improves, standardises and publishes in advance the relevant procedures, criteria and indicators, within the framework of the European Standards and Guidelines of the European Higher Education Area;
- decides to postpone or suspend the evaluation and certification of a specific curriculum or an internal quality assurance system, if the relevant request for evaluation or certification is not supported by the required information material and the necessary documentation.
Quality assurance unit (MODIP)/internal evaluation
The Quality Assurance Unit (MODIP) is the body in every Higher Education Institution (HEI) responsible for the coordination and support of quality assurance processes. In particular, MODIP is responsible for:
- the development, organisation, operation and continuous improvement of the institution’s internal quality assurance system.
- the coordination and support of evaluation processes of academic units and other services in the institution and
- the support of external evaluation and accreditation of study programmes and of the institution’s internal quality assurance system, following the principles, guidelines and directions of the Hellenic Authority for Higher Education. For all afore-mentioned objectives, the Quality Assurance Unit (MODIP) cooperates with the H.A.H.E. ); it develops an evaluation information system; it is, also, responsible for systematically monitoring and uploading anything relative to the evaluative processes and outcomes on the institution’s webpage.
MODIP is set up by a decision of the institution’s Board; it consists of the Rector, or one of its deputies as President, five HEI professors; it also consists of one representative from each personnel category with a voting right, when issues of the respective personnel category are discussed; other members include one representative of undergraduate students and one representative of postgraduate students and doctoral students, if any, as specified in the Organisational Charter.
Approaches and methods for quality assurance
Evaluation and Certification of Quality
The certification of HEIs and their individual units/departments, curricula and internal quality assurance systems is a quality assurance procedure; it is based on specific, predefined, internationally accepted and pre-publicised quantitative and qualitative criteria and indicators. Specifically, the purpose of the certification is to assure that an institution, an individual academic unit, a curriculum, or an internal quality assurance system complies with the minimum quality criteria set by the H.A.H.E.; these criteria are also in line with the principles and guidelines of the European Higher Education Area. Ensuring the quality of higher education promotes the increase of the efficiency and transparency of the overall HEIs work.
Thematic evaluation is a quality assurance procedure for higher education, composed of systematic, documented and detailed evaluation; it aims to highlight and record the work of HEIs or their academic units by using objective criteria, as well as critical analysis and identification of existing weaknesses and gaps related to their academic profile, goals and mission. Thematic evaluation reports are posted on the Authority's website.
EEAP, appointed by H.A.H.E. assesses whether HEI or an academic unit meets the quality criteria for first, second and third cycle curricula, the curriculum quality and the institution's internal quality assurance system, based on predefined criteria; it also looks into the points and elements taken into account by the board for Certification and Evaluation, and, when needed, visits the respective HEI or the academic unit.
- more than one curricula, particularly if completion of one is a prerequisite for admission to the other;
- the relevant curricula or internal quality assurance systems of the various institutions;
- the new curricula before their implementation.
Within the certification procedure, EEAP prepares a certification report submitted to the Board for Evaluation and Certification, in order to issue the certification Decision. During the thematic evaluation process, EEAP draws up an evaluation report with recommendations to HEI or the academic unit. The above reports are posted on H.A.H.E.’s website.
Evaluation and Certification Criteria
The general criteria for certification of study programmes include:
- the academic profile and orientation of the curricula,
- learning outcomes and pursued qualifications and their demand by the labour market,
- the structure and organisation of the curricula,
- the quality and performance of the teaching assignments,
- the numerical strength of the teaching staff,
- the quality of research of the academic unit,
- the link between teaching and research,
- the link between curricula and skills and the labour market needs,
- the quality of supporting services, such as administration, libraries and student care services,
- the expected digital skills acquired through the curricula.
The general criteria for the accreditation of internal quality assurance systems of HEIs include, primarily, the following:
- Establishing clear and specific objectives to ensure the continuous improvement of the quality of the curricula and supporting services of the institution;
- The process of policy planning, effective organisation and the process of decision making on continuous quality improvement;
- The process of policy implementation for continuous quality improvement;
- Evidence-based quality improvement.
External Evaluation and Certification Committee / External evaluation
The External Evaluation and Certification Committee (EEAP) is a five-member panel consisted of 3 independent experts from the Registry of Experts, one student representative and one professional association / chamber representative.
The external evaluation and certification carried out by the EEAP follows the completion of the internal evaluation procedure taking into account the relevant HEI's/Academic unit’s internal evaluation report. In order to verify internal evaluation’s elements, EEAP takes into account the findings after carrying out a site visit to the HEI/academic unit. The external evaluation is completed after issuing the external evaluation and certification report.
The external evaluation and certification draft report is prepared by the EEAP and is notified to the HEI/ academic unit, which may submit its comments within specified time. If no comments are submitted within the deadline, the draft report shall be deemed to have been accepted by the University/the academic unit. The final external evaluation and certification report, accompanied by the internal evaluation report, is submitted by EEAP to the Board for Evaluation and Certification (SAP) for taking a certification decision or other relevant action. The external evaluation shall be completed within four (4) months of the submission of the internal evaluation report to SAP.
Registry of Experts
Register is kept and updated by SAP, which takes into account the suggestions of the HEIs and H.A.H.E.'s relevant bodies. The process of keeping and updating the Registry is determined by a SAP decision, which is published on the Authority’s website. Registy must include at least seventy-five percent (75%) Greek or foreign experts or researchers teaching at universities abroad which should be experienced on Higher Institutions' evaluation procedures. Members of H.A.H.E. Board and SAP as well as related scientific staff are excluded.
Work programme Agreements
Work programme agreements between a Higher Institution and the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs are established in the framework of the strategic planning and the national strategy for higher education; they are specialized on an annual basis and mostly focus on the following issues:
- Higher institution‘s mission and profile, its position within the Greek, European and international area and its goals after setting its priorities;
- Identification, planning and measures for the development and support of the H.E.I.’s educational research activities and objectives;
- Infrastructure and equipment development;
- Upgrade of services;
- Coordination of HE.I.’s academic , teaching and research activities in line with the corresponding developments in institutions abroad and especially with the developments and perspectives in the context of European Higher Education and Research Area.
As for the financial part, work programme agreements are mainly focused to:
- operating costs
The agreements are entered on annual basis.
Allocation of public grant to HEIs
Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs grant to HEIs’ is allocated on the basis of objective criteria and indicators.
- Eighty percent (80%) of regular grants to HEIs is allocated mostly according to the following criteria:
- the total number of students enrolled per study program;
- the estimated annual cost of study per student for each study program;
- the duration of the study program;
- the size and geographical distribution of the institution.
- Twenty percent (20%) of regular grants to HEIs’ is allocated on the basis of quality indicators and achievements, on which each HEI chooses to be evaluated. These indicators are the following:
- the quality and effectiveness of the educational process, evaluated on the basis of the numerical relationship of graduates to incoming students, the evaluation of educational services provided by students and level of graduate's integration to the labour market.
- the research activity, evaluated, for example, on the basis of the number of scientific staff members receiving funding from the European Research Council, the number of Centres of Excellence in Research, the number of faculty members holding positions in the central management bodies of international academic or research organizations or international scientific societies and the number of publications per professor.
- internationalization, which is evaluated mainly on the basis of the number of foreign students in relation to the total number of enrolled students, students through European and international educational programs, students studying abroad through European and international educational institutions, as well as the number of cooperation agreements with other higher education institutions in Greece or abroad.
- the distribution criteria, the quality indicators and their weighting shall be determined by the Minister of Education following a recommendation by the Board of HAHE.
- If a HEI fails to achieve the quality and achievement indicators for which it has chosen to be evaluated, the grant will be allocated to other HEIs.
Centres of Excellence
ΗΕΙs have established Centres of Excellence, so as to award and support good practices in quality and innovation.Hellenic Authority for Higher Education gives prominence to HEIs, Departments or Units after a call for applications and evaluation by specific committees the members of which are selected by lot by the SAP. Criteria for being nominated as Centres of Excellence are primarily the high quality and the effectiveness of teaching and research work, the effective structure of the curriculum, the link between teaching and research and the high quality of supporting services. The criteria and conditions for candidate evaluation and the particular procedure of giving prominence as Centres of Excellence are stipulated by Minister’s decision and issued in the Government Gazette, after the Authority’s proposal.