Formation and approval of the Committee for assessing an institution of higher education or a college
An institution of higher education or college shall be assessed by an Assessment Committee (expert group), comprised of 7 experts. Expert group consists of the head, the secretary and the experts, where one is a representative delegated by the Latvian Students’ Association and at least two are foreign experts.
An employee of the Agency (coordinator) shall ensure the support for the expert group, but is not a member of the group.
Institution of higher education or college assessment expert group is approved by Council of Higher Education (hereinafter- Council).
Within three business days after the expert group has been approved by the Council, the Agency shall inform the respective institution of higher education or college about the composition of the expert group. The institution of higher education or the college may request recusation of the members of the expert group, by submitting within three business days a reasoned application in writing to the Council, explaining in it the causes of recusation with regard to each member of the expert group. The Chairperson of the Council shall review the application by an institution of higher education or a college within two weeks. If the Chairperson of the Council recognises this application as being valid, the Agency shall propose other candidates as experts for replacing the recused ones, establishing a new Expert group. If an institution of higher education or a college does not request recusation of the members of the expert group, it shall be assumed that it agrees with the composition of the expert group.
After the approval of the composition of the expert group, the Agency prepare the forms of contract to the experts. According to the contract, the experts after submitting the joint report shall receive a compensation according to price-list of payable services provided by the foundation “Academic Information Centre”;
In general, the Expert group shall have:
- experience in managing an institution of higher education;
- knowledge that corresponds to the directions of study implemented in the institution of higher education or the college;
- experience in assessing internal quality assurance systems in higher education;
- experience in assessing scientific work of an institution of higher education;
- experience in the field of assessing cooperation of an institution of higher education or a college with employers’ organisations.
Important! Institution of higher education or college shall be assessed by experts who have quality assessment experience in accrediting institutions of higher education, colleges, directions of study in higher education or in licensing study programmes.
The head of the expert group shall have international experience in assessing institutions of higher education.
Observers delegated by the Latvian Students’ Association and the Latvian Trade Union of Education and Science Employees, as well as observers recommended by the Council may participate in the work of the expert group without the right to vote.
The work of the expert group is organized by the head of group:
- leads the expert group meetings;
- distributes the responsibilities to the members of the expert group;
- takes the responsibility for the work of the expert group in general;
- during the on-site visits either leads the meetings with the target groups or delegates another member of the expert group for conducting the respective meetings;
The list of the questions to be asked during each on-site visit shall be prepared by the head and the secretary of the expert group.
The secretary of the expert group:
- is responsible for the joint report of the expert group, that he or she prepares in cooperation with other members of the expert group:
- gathers the opinions of the members of the expert group;
- ensures that all the meetings are recorded in the minutes;
- coordinates the preparation of the joint report of the expert group;
- submits the joint report to the Agency.
Organization of experts’ on-site visit
- Aim of the on-site visits is to obtain as much relevant information about the Institution of Higher Education/college as possible to be used by experts to conduct a comprehensive and unbiased assessment of the Institution of Higher Education/ College.
- Working language of the assessment on-site visit is English.
Tasks for the expert group before the on-site assessment visit:
- get acquainted with the documents that regulate the accreditation of institution of higher education or college and participate in the training organized by the Agency;
- get acquainted with the self-assessment report and prepare an opinion on different aspects in a free writing (or in a form suggested by the head of the expert group);
- divide the responsibilities within the group and prepare and submit to the Assessment coordinator a list with topics/questions that need an additional attention during the on-site assessment visit, as well as list with additional information that needs to be obtained from the institution;
- participate in preparation of the on-site visit;
- participate in the expert group meetings and discussions;
- perform other tasks that are related to the assessment activities according to the division of responsibilities among the members of the expert groups;
- participate in the preparation of the joint report of the expert group;
- carry out all the tasks within the previously agreed deadlines;
Preparation of the on-site visit
- Agency shall provide the experts with access to the self-assessment report usually not later than one month after their on-site visit at the institution of higher education or college. In cases when the composition of the expert group changes and it is not possible to ensure the availability of the information within this term, the new members of the expert group shall be ensured the accessibility to the self-assessment report immediately after their inclusion to the expert group.
- After reading the self-assessment report, the expert group shall prepare the first draft of opinions and define fields and issues that shall be specifically addressed during the on-site visit.
- Agency together with the head of the expert group shall prepare a draft of the on-site visit and send it to the institution of higher education or college for approval and amendments with the participants of the meetings and additional activities. The Agency shall send the prepared draft of the on-site visit to the expert group for a final approval.
- Before the on-site visit, the Agency organizes a face-to-face meeting for the expert group during which the individual expert group work is discussed- defining the questions and their sequence on the basis of pre-prepared interview plans (especially for the first day); roles of the expert group (responsibilities according to the topics, meeting management, note-taking etc.)
Procedures during the on-site visit
- During the on-site visit the expert group shall meet the administration of the respective department of the institution of higher education or college, teaching staff, students, graduates (if any) and employers. During the on-site visit the expert group shall be provided with an access to the informative resources/ infrastructure of the institution of higher education or college, material technical provisions, final thesis, examination materials and other documents by the request from Agency or expert group.
- The expert group shall be ensured appropriate premises and equipment for assessment procedures and meetings.
- After each interview the expert group may discuss the content of the meeting within the group.
- All coffee breaks and lunches shall be organized separately from the representatives of the institution of higher education or college, if not agreed with experts other way, and can be used for assessment related discussions within the expert group.
In the end of the on-site visit the expert group shall discuss the findings of the on-site visit and present orally the first conclusions to the representatives of the institution of higher education or college.
Preparation of the joint report of the expert group
The joint report shall be prepared taking into account the criteria for assessing institutions of higher education or colleges referred to in Cabinet Regulations No. 407 (14.07.2015) Annex 3, the methodology for assessing institutions of higher education and colleges, as well as the following sources of information:
- information provided by the certification institution of the institution of higher education or college, as well as information on the activities of the institution of higher education or college provided by the observers, if such exists;
- results obtained during the visit made by the experts of the Expert group to the institution of higher education or college, inter alia, while meeting the administrative and academic staff of the institution of higher education, students, the representatives of the Senate of institution of higher education or the Council of the college;
- reports and decisions by the experts of accreditation of study directions and licensing of study programmes.
When preparing the joint report, the experts shall:
- mutually agree on the assessment of the criteria to be evaluated (ref. Cabinet Regulation No. 407 (14.07.2015) Annex 3 “Criteria for Assessing a Institutions of Higher Education and Colleges”), meanwhile taking into consideration the European Standards and guidelines for quality assurance in higher education (ESG) Part 1 “European standards and guidelines for internal quality assurance within higher education institutions”;
- agree on wording that is acceptable to all of the experts. If experts have different opinion regarding any of the criteria to be assessed, the dissenting opinion shall be indicated in the respective section of the joint report.
Within one month after the on-site visit the expert group shall send the draft of the joint report to the Agency. The Agency shall examine the expert report and may request the experts to clarify its content.
The Agency shall send the comments by the institution of higher education or college on the factual mistakes (if any) to the expert group. The experts shall review the comments by the institution of higher education or the college and within 5 business days after the receipt of the note from the institution of higher education or the college the experts shall prepare and submit the final version of the report.