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Glossary of terms used on this site

There are 67 entries in this glossary.
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Glossaries

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Term Definition
PROGRAMME ACCREDITATION

The term refers to the accreditation of an individual programme of study proposed to be carried out by the accredited institution, where special attention is devoted to the academic quality of the programme of study, that is, its ability to provide students with high competences applicable in practice. 

QUALIFICATION

Any higher education award (degree, diploma, or other type of formal certification) issued by a competent, registered authority attesting the successful completion of a course programme. It covers a wide variety of higher education awards at different levels and across different countries (e.g., the Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree, the Doctorate, etc.). A qualification is important in terms of what it signifies: competencies and range of knowledge and skills. Sometimes it is equivalent to a license to practice. It is often synonymous with credential. 

QUALIFICATION FRAMEWORK

A comprehensive policy framework, which defines all qualifications recognized nationally in higher education in terms of workload, level, quality, learning outcomes, and profiles. It should be so designed as to be comprehensible through the use of specific descriptors for each qualification covering both its breadth (competencies associated with learning outcomes) and its depth (level). It is structured horizontally in order to cover all qualifications awarded in a system, and vertically, by level. Its purpose is that of facilitating: (i) curriculum development and design of study programmes; (ii) student and graduate mobility; and (iii) recognition of periods of study and credentials. While certain higher education systems have their own qualification frameworks, others allow for the development of a wide variety of qualifications without providing an explicit framework. The emerging European Higher Education Area, envisaged by the Bologna Declaration, is regarded by many as being in need of a pan-European Qualification Framework. 

QUALITY (ACADEMIC)

Quality in higher education is a multi-dimensional, multi-level, and dynamic concept that relates to the contextual settings of an educational model, to the institutional mission and objectives, as well as to specific standards within a given system, institution, programme, or discipline. Quality may thus take different meanings depending on:

QUALITY ASSESSMENT/QUALITY REVIEW

Indicates the actual process of external evaluation (reviewing, measuring, judging) of the quality of higher education institutions and programmes. It consists of those techniques, mechanisms, and activities that are carried out by an external body in order to evaluate the quality of the higher education processes, practices, programmes, and services. Some aspects are important when defining and operating with the concept of quality assessment: (i) the context (national, institutional); (ii) the methods (self-assessment, assessment by peer review, site visits); (iii) the levels (system, institution, department, individual); (iv) the mechanisms (rewards, policies, structures, cultures); (v) certain quality values attached to quality assessment such as academic values, traditional values (focusing upon the subject field), managerial values (focusing on procedures and practices); pedagogical values (focusing on staff and their teaching skills and classroom practice); employment values (emphasizing graduate output characteristics and learning outcomes).

QUALITY ASSURANCE

An all-embracing term referring to an ongoing, continuous process of evaluating (assessing, monitoring, guaranteeing, maintaining, and improving) the quality of a higher education system, institutions, or programmes. As a regulatory mechanism, quality assurance focuses on both accountability and improvement, providing information and judgments (not ranking) through an agreed upon and consistent process and well-established criteria

QUALITY AUDIT

The process of quality assessment by which an external body ensures that (i) the institution of programme quality assurance procedures or (ii) that the overall (internal and external) quality assurance procedures of the system are adequate and are actually being carried out. Quality audit looks to the system for achieving good quality and not at the quality itself. A quality audit can be realized only by persons (i.e., quality auditors) who are not directly involved in the areas being audited. Quality audits can be undertaken to meet internal goals (internal audit) or external goals (external audit). The results of the audit must be documented (audit report). 

QUALITY CULTURE

It refers to a set of shared, accepted, and integrated patterns of quality (often called principles of quality) to be found in the organizational cultures and the management systems of institutions.

Quality culture may also be defined as the ability of institution or individual programme to develop the quality assurance system in its everyday work and, thus achieve continuous quality assurance, not relying exclusively on periodic evaluation.

Awareness of and commitment to the quality of higher education, in conjunction with a solid culture of evidence and with the efficient management of this quality (through quality assurance procedures) are the ingredients of a quality culture. As quality elements change and evolve over time, so must the integrated system of quality supportive attitudes and arrangements (quality culture) change to support new quality paradigms in higher education. 

QUALITY PLANNING

It consists of the set of actions that establishes the objectives and the conditions referring to the quality of higher education and to the application of the mechanism of the quality system. Quality planning includes product planning (identification, classification, and determination of the importance of the features referring to quality as well as to the establishment of the objectives, the conditions referring to quality, and its restraints), managerial and operational planning (including its organization and programming), an elaboration of quality plans, and the provision of quality improvement measures.

RANKING

Ranking and league tables are an established technique for displaying the comparative ranking of organizations in terms of their performance. They are meant to supply information to interested stakeholders, consumers, and policy-makers, alike on measurable differences in service quality of several similar providers. Even if somewhat controversial, especially concerning the methodological aspects, they are quite popular and seen as a useful instrument for public information, while also providing an additional incentive to quality improvement. 

RECOGNITION

Formal acknowledgement of (i) individual academic or professional qualifications; (ii) programmes of a higher education institution; and/or (iii) quality assurance agencies, by a competent recognition authority that acknowledges certain standards and/or values with respect to special purposes that indicate the consequences of recognition. Recognition is usually of a cross-institutional and/or cross-border nature. As regards recognition of individual qualifications, learning experiences (e.g., degrees, diplomas, or periods of study) are validated with a view to facilitating the access of holders to educational and/or employment activities. Here, at least two kinds of recognition, those for academic and those for professional purposes, should be distinguished.

RECOGNITION OF PRIOR LEARNING

The formal acknowledgement of skills, knowledge, and competencies that are gained through work experience, informal training, and life experience.

SIMPLE INDICATOR

A more general type of indicator, expressed in the form of absolute figures, intended to provide a relatively unbiased description of a process. Simple indicators are less relative than performance indicators in that they exclude any judgments and/or points of reference (e.g., a standard, an objective, or an assessment). 

SITE VISIT

A component of external evaluation that is normally part of an accreditation process. However it may be initiated by the institution itself. It consists of external experts visiting a higher education institution to examine the self-study produced by the institution and to interview faculty members, students, and other staff in order to assess quality and effectiveness and to put forward recommendations for improvement.

SKILLS

Skills refer to application of knowledge and know-how in performing tasks and problem solving. In Croatian Qualification Framework, skills shall refer to cognitive (logical, intuitive and creative thinking) and/or psychomotor (physical dexterity and use of the methods, instruments, tools and materials) skills.

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