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Quality assurance in higher education


11.Quality assurance

11.2Quality assurance in higher education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Responsible bodies

The Law on Higher Education (SR) defines responsible bodies in the process of quality assurance. Those bodies are:

National Council for Higher Education: the body responsible for higher education improvement and quality assurance. It consists of 17 members, appointed by the National Assembly.

National Entity for Accreditation and Quality Assurance in Higher Education of Serbia - NEAQA is the body responsible for the accreditation process, higher education institution (HEI) quality assurance process, evaluation of study programmes and higher education quality assurance.

Commission for Accreditation is professional body of the National Accreditation Body. It consists of 17 members proposed by the National Council for Higher Education and appointed by the steering committee of the National Accreditation Body. The Commission "implements the accreditation of higher education institutions and study programs and the procedure of external quality assurance of higher education institutions, in accordance with the Law and prescribed procedure and standards for accreditation and external quality control".

The Accreditation Commission has the following tasks:

  1. Deciding on the application for accreditation and conducting the procedure of accreditation of institutions and study programs in the field of higher education;
  2. Creating report on the initial accreditation when a working licence is issued to an institution;
  3. External quality control implementation;
  4. Ensuring harmonization of accreditation procedures, within the European Higher Education Area;
  5. Performing other tasks in accordance with the Statute of the National Accreditation Body.

Approaches and Methods for Quality Assurance

Quality assurance system is defined by the Law on Higher Education (proposed by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development and adopted by the National Assembly) and related bylaws that define external quality assurance standards and procedures for higher education institutions and study programmes (conducted separately). Bylaws are adopted by the National Council for Higher Education.

The Commission for Accreditation implements external quality assurance procedure either every fourth year or upon the request of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development and National Higher Education Council. The Commission for Accreditation sends external quality assurance report to the higher education institution and to the body that requested the external check.

External quality assurance standards defined by a bylaw and adopted by the National Council for Higher Education are as follows:

  • Standard 1: External quality assurance procedure is based on the HEI self-evaluation results.
  • Standard 2: External quality assurance procedure is based on the fulfilment of defined and published quality standards of higher education institution and its programs.
  • Standard 3: External quality assurance includes examining the fulfilment of quality standards in pre-defined areas: teaching, teaching staff, research, student evaluation, textbooks and literature, library and IT resources, space and equipment, non-steady staff, management process, publicity.
  • Standard 4: The outcome of an external quality assurance procedure of a higher education institution is based on transparent and clear criteria defined by the competent body, in accordance with the Law.
  • Standard 5: External quality control must be organized in a manner that ensures the quality of higher education institutions. Participants in the external quality control process must have clearly defined competence and responsibility.
  • Standard 6: External quality control must be designed to ensure its relevance in terms of increasing quality of higher education institutions.
  • Standard 7: An external quality report should be written so that its parts are clearly indicated. All decisions, findings and recommendations in the report should be easy to find.
  • Standard 8: External quality assurance should take place at a predetermined and transparent time intervals.
  • Standard 9: The external quality assurance procedure is being improved and adapted to changes in higher education.

Procedure: The Commission for Accreditation appoints a sub-commission that has at least two members of the Commission and one student representative without decision-making rights. Additional members can be field-specific experts or representatives of stakeholders (for example labour market stakeholders). Analysis of the submitted documentation and scoring of the self-evaluation results in comparison to evaluation standards is conducted by two reviewers appointed by the Commission for Accreditation. Reviewers are reporting to the Commission for Accreditation. Sub-commission can evaluate fact of higher importance by visiting HEIs.

Accreditation determines whether HEI and study programme are in line with standards that are defined by the Bylaw on Standards and Procedures of Accreditation of Study Programmes (SR) and the Bylaw on Standards and Procedures of Accreditation of Higher Education Institutions (SR). Accreditation process is conducted on regular basis every 7th year or earlier upon the request of a HEI. National Accreditation Body issues the accreditation certificate.

Self-evaluation and internal quality assurance of study programmes, teaching process and work conditions are defined by each higher education institution in line with the Law on Higher Education. A HEI defines its internal documentation and procedures for the internal quality assurance process. Self-evaluation takes place at least every three years. Students’ rating of academic programmes quality is a part of quality assurance procedure. A report on self-evaluation procedures and results are submitted to the National Accreditation body.