Turkish Higher Education Quality Council (hernceforth THEQC) is responsible for the managing and monitoring the quality assurance dynamics of the higher education institutions in Turkey, scrutinizing the educational and research activities, administrative provisions and accreditation in line with the national and international quality standards, and thereby enacting evaluations via affiliated independent external evaluation bodies. THEQC is an autonomous body, both administratively and financially, with an official function. The followings are the major responsibilities of the THEQC:
- Materializing external evaluation of the higher education institutions
- Authorizing of the external independent accreditation institutions and
- Aiding higher education in internalizing the quality assurance as an institutional culture.
History of Quality Assurance in Higher Education
The body responsible for the quality assurance in higher education is the Council of Higher Education (CoHE) in Turkey. Studies and missions/job descriptions of CoHE, to which all the universities are connected administratively and academically, were laid down by higher education law No.2457, introduced in 1981 and the Constitution of 1982. Later ABET embarked on evaluating certain engineering programs in 1994. In 1997 a quality evaluation project was carried out in higher education institutions in Turkey. 1998 witnessed the accreditation and quality betterment studies among teacher education programs.
The first systematic studies of quality assurance in Turkish higher education system begun by 2001, as a result of joining the Bologna Process.
As part of Bologna Process, initially, studies on integration of higher education institutions to European Higher Education Arena was materialized among the academic programs. EUA-EIP evaluations were first carried out in 1999. In addition, the accreditation of the engineering programs was run by MUDEK in 2002. Aftermath, YÖDEK (THEQC) was established based on the published legislation entitled “The Regulation of Academic Evaluation and Quality Assurance for Higher Education” 2005. Within the legislative frame of this regulation, ADEK (En: Academic Evaluation and Quality Development Boards) was established and the quality assurance and evaluation system were then materialized through the ADEK reports prepared by the higher education institutions. The first quality assurance attempt, YÖDEK, prevailed until 2015. During this process the “Principles and Guidelines for State Financial Management, Control Law and Strategic Planning for State Institutions” was reframed, which enabled the establishment of the independent accreditation and evaluation bodies by 2009. Also the development of Turkish Higher Education Competency Framework in 2010 by the CoHE. In 2011, CoHE Law 2547 was modified by the inclusion of the 6111th Law, pointing out the new modifications in quality assurance for higher education institutions. Thereby the definitions for the ECTS credits for graduation was reframed. Between 2009 and 2013, 73 universities in Turkey obtained Diploma Supplement (22,5% of all HIs) and 31 of them received ECTS etiquette (35% of all fields). Bologna projects became the infrastructure for the quality assurance. Also, the studies on quality assurance and accreditation was enacted by the Council of Higher Education up to 2015.
The Turkish Higher Education Quality Council was initially founded, under the auspices of the CoHE, as the Higher Education Quality Board in 2015 as part of the Higher Education Quality Assurance Regulation with the aim of evaluating the quality of HEIs’ education and research activities and administrative services in accordance with the national and international quality standards, and coordinating the processes of accreditation, internal and external QA, and authorization of independent external evaluation organizations. It operated within the CoHE until 1 July 2017.
The Board was reorganized and renamed as the Higher Education Quality Council of Turkey according to the THEQC Establishment Law by its enactment on 1 July 2017. After this regulation, the THEQC became a public legal entity with administrative and financial autonomy and special budget. With the reorganization, the number of Council members decreased from 21 to 13.
The THEQC’s activities in QA of higher education are defined by the Regulation on Higher Education Quality Assurance and the Higher Education Quality Council, which was published in the Official Gazette No. 30604 of 23 November 2018. The regulation comprises articles regarding the implementation and execution of the processes related to the organizational structure, duties and authorities of the THEQC; the establishment, duties and authorities of the quality commissions of HEIs; internal and external QA systems in HEIs, and authorization and recognition of accreditation agencies.
According to the regulation, the THEQC is a national organization authorized to conduct external evaluation of HEIs and contributes to the establishment of internal and external QA systems in HEIs. The THEQC also monitors the accreditation activities of national and international accreditation agencies operating in Turkey and conducts the processes of authorization and recognition of agencies.
Methods and Approaches to Quality Assurance
The first duty of the Turkish Higher Education Quality Council (THEQC) is to establish an internal quality system for the higher education institutions to aid them in materializing their missions and objectives. Higher education institutions are to go through an external evaluation process at least once in every five years. The internal evaluation reports prepared by the institutions are taken as the primary source of data, and thereby the external evaluation process seeks to understand how the given institution aspires and challenges to actualize previously set criteria; objectives, missions and relevant strategic plans during this process. The major out put of the external evaluation process that is regularly run by the Turkish Higher Education Quality Council (THEQC) is the Institutional Feedback Reports. The major locus of foci that the Turkish Higher Education Quality Council (THEQC) pinpoints are the following dimensions: accountability, learning outcomes, transparency, evidence based approach and innovativeness. Up to date, 160 higher education institutions have been monitored rigorously by the Turkish Higher Education Quality Council (THEQC). Within this context the data yielded indicates that the higher education institutions make use of the Institutional Feedback Reports to better their research, teaching and administrative dimensions. In addition to these provisions, the Turkish Higher Education Quality Council (THEQC) also developed an Accreditation Rubric, which will be utilized with the volunteering pilot universities, and thereby those who are found successful during this process shall be accredited from 2 years to 5.
The second task of the THEQC is to organize the accreditation of the national and international accreditation institutions. In order for institutions to be accredited by the THEQC, these bodies are to adopt an outcome-oriented approach based on the local and international standards. To this end, THEQC has appointed 16 national agents as accredited institutions. However, certain international accreditation institutions are also working in the local context, which have not been accredited by the THEQC. This bodies need to be accredited by the THEQC so that they can be included in the booklet of higher education institutions.
The third task of the THEQC is that the THEQC aims at spreading the culture of quality assurance among the higher education institutions. To materialize this very objective, THEQC provides guidance for the higher education institutions, organize events and publish certain guidelines by promoting the international cooperation. In addition, the THEQC publishes an annual report as a feedback and reflection mechanism for the national context.
Regulation for THEQC
THEQC was established on 23.07.2015 with the regulation entitled “THEQC Regulation” numbered 29423. Later on, the body was reorganized based on the legislative refinement on the 2547 HE Law and a decree numbered 7033 and published on 01.07.2017.
Turkish Higher Education Quality Council is responsible for the managing and monitoring the quality assurance dynamics of the higher education institutions in Turkey, scrutinizing the educational and research activities, administrative provisions and accreditation in line with the national and international quality standards, and thereby enacting evaluations via affiliated independent external evaluation bodies. THEQC is an autonomous body, both administratively and financially, with an official function.
THEQC constitutes 13 members, which are:
Three from CoHE (Council of Higher Education)
Three from UAK (Directorate Interuniversity Board)
Three from MoNE (Ministry of National Education)
One from MYK (Board of National Qualifications)
One from TUSEB (Turkish Board of Health Institutes)
One from TUBITAK (Scientific and Technological Council of Turkey)
One from TURKAK (Turkish Accreditation Board)
One from TOBB (The Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey)
and a student representative.
According to the law, the functioning frame of the THEQC is depicted by means of a regulation, which frames the establishment of the council, internal and external evaluation processes, quality assurance commissions in the HIs, obtaining of the quality identification document and other relevant dimensions. To this end, the latest regulation was published on the official gazette on 23 November 2018.
Duties of the THEQC are as follows:
- identifying and sharing the information concerning the quality assurance systems in higher education,
- seeking ways to increase and strengthen the culture of quality assurance among higher education institutions,
- encouraging the HIs to establish quality assurance systems and guide HIs for this objective,
- monitoring the quality assurance systems in HI context and materialize relevant studies in the similar areas,
- identifying the principles, rules and descriptors for external evaluation and accreditation,
- evaluating the higher education institutions with regards to education and training, research and development, social contribution and administrative provisions on a perspective of quality assurance at least once in every five years,
- evaluating the provisions of the HIs with expertise and mission, monitoring these institutions and providing results for the Higher Education Council,
- disseminating information by means of activities and events in order to inform the HIs about the external evaluation criteria and accreditation,
- Upon the external evaluation of the HIs, giving feedback to the institutions with the report prepared by the THEQC,
- Assigning and affiliating private, independent accreditation institutions by analyzing their characteristics, monitoring these private bodies and canceling their liscencings when necessary,
- Representing Turkey about quality assurance in HE.
- Analyzing the level of application of the Turkish Competency Framework with regard to providing quality assurance among higher education institutions.
Institutional External Evaluation Program
Within the framework of the THEQC Institutional External Evaluation Program, the evaluation process of HEIs is defined by the Regulation on Higher Education Quality Assurance and the Higher Education Quality Council. According to the regulation, all HEIs in Turkey (state universities, foundation universities and foundational vocational schools of higher education) are required to submit annual self-evaluation reports to the THEQC and be evaluated by the THEQC as part of the Institutional External Evaluation Program at least once every five years.
Every year, higher education institutions are to prepare an Institutional Internal Evaluation Report based on the external evaluation program. External evaluation calendar is drawn and announced by the THEQC and executed by the independent external peer evaluators appointed by the THEQC. The THEQC Institutional External Evaluation activities are integrated to the institutional self-evaluation process.Institutional Self Evaluation Report (ISER) is shared with the public by YÖKAK.
Institutional Accreditation Program
THEQC is responsible for the authorization and recognition of accreditation agencies in Turkey. The processes of authorizing national accreditation agencies and recognizing international accreditation agencies are conducted in accordance with the principles and criteria set out by the THEQC. By 2006, the programs accredited by the agencies that are recognized or authorized by the THEQC have been listed in the YKS Higher Education Programs and Placement Guideline (formerly named as ÖSYS Higher Education Programs and Placement Guideline). In 2020 a pilot study will be carried out with the voluntary higher education institutions.
Higher Education Quality Board establishes a set of criteria by means of Accreditation and Institutional Evaluation Criteria and Institutional External Evaluation and Accreditation Programs Guide.
THEQC will identify annually the higher education institutions to be included in Higher Education Quality Board and evaluation teams will be authorized based on the characteristics of those institutions.
Higher Education Quality Board, under the auspices of THEQC, determines on the following issues:
- Full accreditation – Five years
- Conditioned accreditation – Two years
- Support for the HE Institution for quality assurance
Program Accreditation refers to the accreditation of a single program, based on the academic, administrative and performative criteria set by the THEQC, with both internal and external quality assurance system mechanisms.
Higher Education Quality Board establishes a set of criteria by means of Accreditation and Institutional Evaluation Criteria and Institutional External Evaluation and Accreditation Guidelines. This guideline also stands for the program level accreditations and monitoring in higher education institutions.
Instutional Follow-up Program
Institutional Follow-up Program is a program that aims to evaluate the development process in the relevant higher education institution after the Institutional External Evaluation Program process. The main evaluation scope of the monitoring system consists of the "open aspects" that appear in the Institutional Feedback Reports (KGBR) prepared as a result of the external evaluation of the institution. In addition, whether the strengths of the institution that emerged in the KGBR are sustainable or not is evaluated within the scope of the Institutional Follow-up Program.
Higher education institutions, whose evaluation has been completed within the scope of the Institutional External Evaluation Program (KDDP) carried out by the Higher Education Quality Board, are included in the monitoring process at the earliest in the second year following the evaluation year. After the higher education institutions included in the program are determined, the evaluation team that will carry out the monitoring process is selected from the evaluator pool and assigned. Within the scope of the program, two visits are made by the evaluation team to the institution to be evaluated. These; preliminary visit and site visit. After the visits, the Monitoring Report (IR) prepared by the evaluation team is shared with the public by YÖKAK.
58 higher education institutions were included in the Institutional Follow-up Program, which was implemented for the first time in 2020. In the second follow up program for 2021, 102 higher education schools were included to the program.