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Reaccreditation of doctoral study programmes

The scope of evaluation

Re-accreditation of postgraduate (doctoral) university study programmes is an external evaluation procedure, which was carried out from 2016 to 2019 in all higher education institutions delivering doctoral study programmes with the aim of establishing their quality and identifying mechanisms for their improvement. That evaluation was initiated by the findings of thematic evaluations carried out in 2013, which pointed to the need to analyse the doctoral level of education in Croatia, and even the need to reform it.

Goal of the evaluation

The goal of re-accreditation of doctoral study programmes was to establish whether minimum conditions prescribed by the legal regulations in force have been met on all doctoral study programmes delivered by Croatian universities, and to identify areas of doctoral study programmes which can be considered of optimal quality.

Re-accreditation procedure and documents

Re-accreditation of doctoral study programmes was carried out as re-accreditation of a part of activities in accordance with the Act on Quality Assurance in Science and Higher Education (OG 45/09) and the Ordinance on the Content of a Licence and Conditions for Issuing a Licence for Performing Higher Education Activity, Carrying out a Study Programme and Re-Accreditation of Higher Education Institutions (OG 24/10). The main document in the procedure of re-accreditation of doctoral study programmes are the Principles and criteria for the re-accreditation of postgraduate university study programmes in the Republic of Croatia. The Procedure of re-accreditation of higher education institutions is appropriately applied to the re-accreditation of doctoral study programmes.

Higher education institutions prepared a Self-evaluation Report in line with the Self-evaluation Template and entered quantitative data into MOZVAG database. The Self-evaluation Template complied with the Principles and criteria for the re-accreditation of postgraduate university study programmes in the Republic of Croatia, which provided explanations of the evaluation criteria. 

The site visit lasted one day per study programme, and included meetings with the management of the higher education institution, the head of doctoral study programme, teachers, supervisors, research project leaders, doctoral candidates, alumni and external stakeholders. It also included a tour of the necessary resources: library, workspace dedicated to doctoral candidates and laboratories.

The expert panels prepared their reports by using the Final Report Template, which comply with the Principles and criteria for the re-accreditation of postgraduate university study programmes in the Republic of Croatia, which provides explanations of individual evaluation criteria.

Expert panels proposed the outcomes of the procedure to the Accreditation Council in the final reports: issuing a confirmation, denial of a license or letter of expectation. Expert panels proposed letters of expectation for one, two or three years, with or without a suspension of enrolment.

The Accreditation Council adopts an opinion based on the expert panel's final report and the official statement of the higher education institutions. On the basis of the opinion of the Accreditation Council, ASHE issues the accreditation recommendation.

Outcome of the procedure

Outcomes of the procedure differed regarding the level of fulfilment of minimum requirements, additional accreditation criteria and indicators that pointed to certain parts and practices in doctoral study programmes which can be considered of high quality. The expert panel proposed the outcome of the procedure in their report.

On the basis of the opinion of the Accreditation Council, ASHE issues the accreditation recommendation by which it proposes the outcome of the procedure to the minister responsible for science and education.

On the basis of accreditation recommendation the Ministry of Science and Education issues:

  • A confirmation that requirements for performing the activities, or parts of the activities of the HEI, are met if the accreditation recommendation is positive,
  • Denial a license for performing the activities, or part of the activities of the HEI, if the accreditation recommendation is negative,
  • Issuance of a letter of expectation, with the time limit of up to three years to remove deficiencies, which can also include the suspension of student enrolment for the specified period.

Follow-up

After the end of the follow-up period, as set by the Accreditation Council, the higher education institution submits a report to ASHE, based on which the Accreditation Council determines to what extent has the higher education institution implemented recommendations for improvement.

In case a higher education institution was issued a confirmation on compliance with the requirements for performing the activities, or parts of the activities, the follow up includes the following steps:

  • Within 6 months after receiving the confirmation, the re-accredited higher education institution adopts an action plan aimed at quality improvement, and submits it to the Agency,
  • Once a year, the re-accredited higher education institution submits a report on the implementation of the action plan to the Agency, and, accordingly, updates the data on the conditions in the information system used by the Agency.

Action Plan Template and Annual Report Template

In case a higher education institution was issued a letter of expectation, the Agency recommends one of the following:

  • Issuance of a confirmation on fulfilling requirements for performing the activity or part of activity;
  • Denying a license for performing the activity, or part of the activity. 

Within its report on the implementation of the action plan for removing deficiencies identified in the re-accreditation procedure, the higher education institution follows the recommendations of the expert panel, describes the changes made on the basis of these recommendations, and provides supporting evidence thereof (e.g. a decision on amendments to study programmes, a decision that regulates the issue of supervisor being a member of the thesis proposal committee or the thesis defense committee, decision on the appointment of a committee for monitoring the work of supervisors, regulations and decisions showing amendments to doctoral programmes, list of papers/projects, etc.).

Overview of Re-accreditation of Doctoral Studies in the Republic of Croatia

The Agency presented the publication Overview of Re-accreditation of Doctoral Studies in the Republic of Croatia at the conference Evaluation of doctoral studies in Croatia - overview of re-accreditation, held on 23 September 2020 in Zagreb. The publication offers an overview of advantages and disadvantages of the national system of doctoral education, but also of the challenges in quality development that lie ahead.

This publication was made as part of the SKAZVO project (Improvement of quality assurance and enhancement systems in higher education) financed from the European Social Fund.

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