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Part II: Agency reports

Standard 4: The quality management system is based on the quality approach of the higher education institution and provides for the systematic involve -

II.4 Romanian Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education


and approves the reports of the study programmes quality evaluation and the report of the institutional evaluation commission for financial and managerial activities. The department draws up the REPORT OF THE EXTERNAL EVALUATION QUALITY DEPARTMENT;

THE REPORT OF THE EXTERNAL EVALUATION QUALITY DEPARTMENT is presented and discussed at the meeting of the ARACIS COUNCIL, which draws up the AGENCY’S EXTERNAL INSTITU- TIONAL EVALUATION REPORT, in the presence of the mission director.

The Council organises the publication of the Agency’s external institutional evaluation report on ARACIS’ website. It is advisable to publish the response letter from the evaluated institution as an appendix.

No more than two months after the institutional evaluation visit.

The reports of the students’ rep- resentatives and the one of the international evaluator are inte- grated in the report of the external evaluation department.

Quality Audit in Europe 2013

5 External assessments/effects and impact

Periodic evaluation for accredited universities in the following categories:

high degree of confidence, confidence, limited confidence, lack of confidence.

Follow-up procedures match the grade obtained. For ‘high degree of confidence’ and ‘confidence’ at institutional level: intermediate evaluation after three years; for ‘limited confidence’ or ‘lack of confidence’: a new evaluation after one year.

Law 87/2006 on the approval of Government Emergency Ordinance No.

75/2005, Article 34:

(1) If ARACIS finds that quality standards are not met, it will inform the Ministry of National Education.

(2) ARACIS will order a new external assessment, based on the new internal assessment report developed by the education provider.

(3) If the new external assessment report is not favourable either, the Ministry of National Education shall order:

a) the cessation of all educational activities within the respective training program, starting with its first year;

b) the provider to develop annual internal education quality assessment reports for the years that are still in progress.

(4) The education provider must undergo another external assessment, after a trial period of a maximum of two years following the last non-favourable report.

(5) If this third external assessment report is still not favourable, the Ministry of National Education shall develop and promote, as the case may be, through an Order, Government Decision or law, a decision that puts a final end to the education programmes and governs the situation concerning the assets of the establishment and of its students.

The grades awarded by ARACIS are used by the universities on their websites and in other materials to attract students. Also, potential students or parents ask about the university’s grade before making a choice.

Radu Mircea Damian, Oana Sârbu

6 Current and future challenges and developments

Improving the quality level of ARACIS’ activities remains a major goal, although a great deal has been achieved already.

The specification of quality standards is to be further developed, as the Law formulates the domains and criteria of concern for quality assurance.

ARACIS and higher education institutions consider the standards and perfor- mance indicators to: (a) represent reference points for institutional quality management; (b) offer a framework for collecting information, maintaining databases and processing information that higher education institutions can use for internal monitoring and external demonstration of quality assurance;

(c) provide ARACIS with references in the process of external evaluation, as standards and performance indicators in each higher education institution should be closely related to the National Qualifications Framework for Higher Education (RNCIS).

In the future, a more balanced set of performance indicators is needed, focusing mostly on quality assurance processes (internal management of quality at all levels, study programmes, faculties, institutions) and outputs (learning outcomes, scientific production), with inputs as conditions (staffing, teaching/learning environment).

Setting new quality assurance evaluation principles is a longer-term goal of the agency, to be implemented in accordance with a confidence-building process in Romanian higher education.

This will demand a shift of focus in the activity and in its perception in the eyes of all participants and stakeholders: from quality control or moni- toring (as external evaluation is still perceived, mostly by the public and even by some authorities and the mass media) to quality enhancement.

Therefore, a more balanced relationship shall be developed between compulsory normative minimal requirements (useful mostly for accreditation) and an enhanced fitness-for-purpose approach (for periodic evaluation) with a focus on a ‘benchmarking approach’. The benchmarking approach involves meeting various thresholds as a result of institutional and inter-institutional comparisons.

Benchmarking will be a dynamic process based on the current perfor- mance of Romanian universities, in correlation with European trends and

Quality Audit in Europe 2013

benchmarks. With benchmarking regarded as a quality enhancement tool, uni- versities and study programmes will be encouraged to gather systematic data and to set internal reference points – intra-institutional or intra-programme comparisons. Universities will be encouraged to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses and to take remedial decisions on the basis of evidence.

Periodic (cyclical) evaluation will, in the long term, mostly be focused on the audit of the internal quality system (process) and quality enhancement.

The institutions will therefore be encouraged to assume full responsibility for assuring quality and also to involve stakeholders so as to ensure the validity of their study programmes. It is hoped that the conditions for the direct appli- cation of this project will be in place after the completion of a second round of external evaluations of higher education institutions.

The performance indicators will take into account more and more parameters, such as ‘learning outcomes’, although the agency is aware of the danger of reducing quality assurance to evaluations based simply on output/

outcome data. These indicators will be improved and developed further with increased participation from employers. At the same time, the reporting pro- cedure will become more relevant for the general public, allowing greater transparency in the conclusions of external evaluations.

In conclusion, ARACIS’ vision for the quality of higher education is to focus on building better systems to give all stakeholders what they expect in terms of quality of education, to stimulate research and to reduce brain drain.

II.5 The Danish Accreditation