During last year Covid-19 pandemics have changed daily routines, and set limitations on activities of many fields all over the world, however role of the education has not decreased, nor has the need for quality assurance of education – Gulseren Kocaman, Head of Turkish HEPDAK agency (Association for Evaluation and Accreditation of Nursing Education Programs) said at the opening of the quality assurance agency staff exchange program.

Jolanta Silka, Head of the AIKA, pointed out that this is the first acquaintance with the Turkish higher education quality assurance system for the representatives of the Latvian agency, as well as first CEENQA (Central and Eastern European Network of Quality Assurance Agencies) staff exchange experience for both agencies. It is seen as valuable opportunity for all participants to share experiences, and gain new ideas and inspiration for further improvement of quality assurance.

Olgun Cicek, Board Member of CEENQA and coordinator of the Staff Exchange Program, announced that such exchange program has been launched to offer CEENQA members the opportunity to share examples of good practice. The program coordinator regretted that this exchange could not take place face to face in Izmir or Riga, meanwhile also highlighting the positive side of online meetings, as it is easier to ensure participation of more employees remotely (more than 35 participants from Latvia and Turkey participated in the exchange).

During the 2 days of experience exchange (April 27th-28th, 2021) representatives of the agencies from both countries introduced the higher education system in their country, informed about the quality assurance processes and stakeholders involved, as well as explained their role in the quality assurance processes. Representatives of the agencies participated in discussions on quality assurance procedures, their experience, challenges and solutions.

Despite the differences in the work of both agencies, participants of the exchange also saw a number of similar features, experiences and challenges they have to face. Second part of the exchange meeting focused on the challenge that currently is topical all over the world, by sharing experiences on how do agencies operate in conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic. Representatives of the agencies from both countries agreed that one of the biggest challenges is the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the inability to predict what restrictions will be set for the next day, next week, or month, and how to ensure a continuous accreditation process in these circumstances.

Number of valuable insights were gained during the staff exchange experience, and the information provided by the Turkish agency to AIKA employees will be useful when preparing for the evaluation of the field of health care studies next year. It should also be noted that this type of experience exchange is a great opportunity not only to learn from the experience of others, but also a possibility to look at the development and achievements of your own organization, and it is nice to hear a praise and appreciation for the quality assessment system developed and work done in Latvia from colleagues in other countries.