Commission for Accreditation and Quality Assurance (CAQA)

The review will evaluate the way in which and to what extent the Commission for Accreditation and Quality Assurance (CAQA) fulfills the criteria for ENQA membership and thus the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area. The evaluation is scheduled to finish February/March 2018.

Background and context
The Commission for Accreditation and Quality Assurance (CAQA) is formed in 2006 by the Law on higher education as an independent body of the National Council for higher education. It is the only formally recognised body responsible for the external quality assurance for higher education in Serbia. CAQA has 17 members from different scientific/educational fields from both, academic and professional sector supported by 8 members of administrative staff. It is financed by the accreditation fees, and the Ministry for education provides technical and administrative support. CAQA has operational and decision making independence from all stakeholders (Ministry, National Council, higher education institutions).

CAQA carries out the accreditation procedure for higher education institutions (HEIs) and study programmes (both periodical on 5 years), decides on the application for accreditation and issues a certificate of accreditation which is a prerequisite for licencing HEIs in Serbia. CAQA has a mandate to develop accreditation and quality assurance standards, and to run the processes of initial accreditation, periodic accreditation of study programmes and institutions as well as process of external quality control at the institutional level (auditing). In these processes CAQA uses pool of over 700 external experts. CAQA prepares the standards for all evaluation processes (accreditation at institutional and study programme level, auditing, initial accreditation, and self-evaluation of HEIs) together with accompanying procedures and guidelines. The first standards were developed in 2007 and in 2016 CAQA has prepared a revised version according to the changes in the ESG, minor changes in the Law on higher education as well as to the 10 years of experience in implementing the standards.

Since 2007, CAQA has completed 2 rounds of accreditations at both, institutional and study programme level: the first during 2007-2011 and the second during 2012-2016, as well as one round of the external quality control – auditing. In total over 200 HEIs and 1600 study programmes have been accredited in every accreditation round. Methodology used in these processes is also defined and strictly followed. For the accreditations, applications are first sent to the reviewers, then on-site visits to the institutions are organised with the participation of the CAQA members, students and labour market representative. Reports are prepared for adoption at the CAQA meeting. Accreditation decisions are: accreditation, if all the quality standards are met; act of warning, if the standards are partially met; and rejection, if the standards are not met. Reports on the decisions are then publicised. External quality control (auditing) is based on the self-evaluation reports that are peer reviewed and after the site visit expert team prepares the extensive report for the CAQA meeting. Positive report is publicised and in the case of the substantial problems in the quality, institution is submitted to the follow-up procedure. Using the method described above, CAQA has conducted since 2007 a total of 5234 (2233 in the period of 2007-2011, and 3001 in the period of 2012-2016) quality assessments, of which 465 (232 plus 233) were accreditation requests for HEIs; 4401 (1947 plus 2454) accreditation requests for study programmes and 126 (54 plus 72) requests for external quality control (audit) of HEIs. Since 2013 CAQA has received 19 requests for initial accreditation.

CAQA has also the role of advising HEIs on how to implement the standards of internal quality control, how to write the self-evaluation report and how to prepare for the external quality control. CAQA runs seminars for the new peer-reviewers. CAQA has developed international cooperation with the agencies within the region and at the European level. CAQA has also developed the system of internal quality control by analysing questionnaires given to all its stakeholders on the regular basis (every 2-3 years). Since the last evaluation by ENQA, CAQA has published 3 system wide analysis and several reviews in which many aspects of its activities have been analysed. Majority of them are comparative analysis of the accreditation outcomes for 2 accreditation cycles in the different sectors. That enable the information on the effects of the process of external quality control on development of internal quality control mechanisms within the HEIs as well as on overall improvement of HEIs.

CAQA has been a member of ENQA since April 2013 and is applying for renewal of ENQA membership.

CAQA has been registered on EQAR since November 2014 and is applying for renewal.

Review process
The process is designed in the light of the Guidelines for ENQA Agency Reviews and in line with the requirements of the EQAR Procedures for Applications.

The evaluation procedure consists of the following steps:

  1. Formulation of the Terms of Reference and protocol for the review;
  2. Nomination and appointment of the review panel;
  3. Self-assessment by CAQA  including the preparation of a self-assessment report;
  4. A site visit by the review panel to CAQA ;
  5. Preparation and completion of the final evaluation report by the review panel;
  6. Scrutiny of the final evaluation report by the ENQA Review Committee;
  7. Analysis of the scrutiny by the ENQA Board and their decision regarding ENQA membership;

Follow-up of the panel’s and/or ENQA Board’s recommendations by the agency, including a voluntary follow-up visit.

Review panel
The panel is composed of the following members:

  • Achim Hopbach, Managing Director, Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria (AQ Austria), Austria – Chair, quality assurance professional (ENQA nominee)
  • Ewa Kolanowska, Self-employed/freelance consultant, Poland – Secretary, quality assurance professional (ENQA nominee)
  • Danutė Rasimavičienė, Dean of the Faculty of Business Management, Vilniaus kolegija/University of Applied Sciences, Lithuania – Academic (EURASHE nominee)
  • Marija Vasilevska, Master student at Faculty of Law Iustinianus Primus Skopje, University Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Macedonia – Student (ESU nominee)

This review is being coordinated by Agnė Grajauskienė.

CAQA’s self-assessment report is available here.