The Romanian higher education system is part of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and the Bologna Process. ARACIS is member of European Association for Quality in Higher Education (ENQA) and registered in the the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR).
Thus, the standards and procedures for internal and external evaluation are aligned with the Standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG).
Another specific element is that external evaluation, according with the EHEA requirements, may be undertaken, as well, by other Agencies registered in EQAR.
Ensuring the quality of higher education and university research is a fundamental obligation of the higher educational institution and a fundamental attribution of the Ministry of Education.
In achieving this task, the Ministry of Education cooperates with ARACIS, other agencies enlisted in EQAR, as well as with ministry consultative councils and other organisms with competences in this area, in compliance with the legislation in force.
Universities’ assessment is made with the purpose of authorisation and accreditation, as well as for ranking the educational programs and classifying universities. ARACIS is evaluating all programs, fields of studies, and higher education institutions every 5 years.
External quality evaluation for granting authorization or accreditation, respectively periodical evaluation, are performed by ARACIS, or other EQAR registered agency, according to the national law and international standards in the field.
Approaches and methods for quality assurance
The main ARACIS attributions are as follows:
To develop and periodically revise the methodology and accreditation standards.
To assess based on standards and methodology approved by Government Decisions, upon request or of its own initiative, and to propose the authorization, respectively the accreditation of higher education providers and their study programs. On the basis of the accreditation reports, the Ministry of Education elaborates the normative acts for the establishment of higher education structures.
To perform the assessment of quality of higher education programs and higher education providers.
To cooperate with the Ministry of Education and ARACIP in developing and promoting policies and strategies for increasing the quality of education in Romania.
To publish manuals, guides, papers summarizing the best practices in quality assessment and assurance and to develop, regularly, system analyses on the quality of higher education in Romania.
The evaluation process is accomplished through internal evaluation within the respective higher education institution, and external evaluation accomplished by the Romanian Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ARACIS) or other EQAR registered agency, according to the law.
In performing its tasks, ARACIS use evaluators, national or international. Students, and in certain cases, employers representatives, are also part of the evaluation panels. Speciality Permanent Experts Commissions are organized within ARACIS.
Accreditation and evaluation processes are based on criteria grouped under the following domains: institutional capacity, educational efficacity, and quality management.
For each criterion are defined standards, reference standards, and performance indicators.
There are three successive stages of academic quality evaluation:
the drafting, by the provider or institution, of a quality self-evaluation report.
the external evaluation of quality, that includes a site visit by the experts’ panel.
the implementation of recommendations resulting from the self-evaluation and external evaluation, and the monitoring, by the agency, together with the education institution and/or other competent entities, of their implementation.
In case ARACIS or another quality assurance agency, from Romania or abroad, registered with the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR), ascertains that the quality standards are not met, they shall inform the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry shall warn the education provider.
If within one year, respectively two years, from the issuance of the report indicating the failure to meet the quality standards at the level of study programs / domains, respectively of the education provider, the provider does not apply for a new assessment from the quality assurance agency that carried out the previous assessment or, it fails again to comply with the standards; the Ministry initiates a Government decision to close the concerned study program / domain, respectively of the institution.