Dr. Juris Dzelme
Postal Address - Vaļņu street 2, Riga, Latvia, LV-1050.
Office Address - Smilšu Street 8 (entrance from Aldaru street 2/4) 3rd floor, Riga, Latvia, LV-1050, phone: +371 67213870, fax: +371 67212558, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accreditation of higher education institutions takes place according to the Law on Higher Education Establishments (LHE), adopted by Saeima on November 2, 1995; article 9 of which stipulates the general accreditation principles of higher education institutions (HEI). Only those higher educational establishments who have received credence (been accredited) and which offer state accredited study programmes have the right to issue certificates of higher education recognised by the state to its graduates. The accreditation proceeds in accordance with the regulations on accreditation approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. Study programmes are accredited no less often than once in six years.
Certificates of higher educational establishments established by legal entities are recognised by the state and they receive the right to use the state crest of the Republic of Latvia on the certificates after the respective higher educational establishment and the programme of studies has been accredited and its statute (satversme) has been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.
Requirements to the study programmes and HEI as well as the most important organisational aspects related to accreditation are reflected in the Accreditation Regulations for HEI (AREG) approved by the Cabinet of Ministers (first version on November 28, 1995, last version accepted on 03.10.06., nr. 821.). Recommendations for application of these Rules are elaborated by Baltic Higher Education Coordination Committee. Accreditation is a part of the higher education quality assurance system, which, together with self-evaluation and evaluation by outer experts, forms the main stages of a continuous quality assurance process.
The regulations for the higher education quality assurance are the same in the university and non-university sector but the approach should be different. The study programmes should be evaluated according to their specific aims and objectives. The members of the external expert team also should be chosen according to the specific tasks of the evaluation.
The self-assessment is a necessary pre-condition and the first step of the accreditation of the higher education institution. The creation of the permanently acting quality assurance and improvement system, based on the self evaluation, is the main goal of the accreditation.
The self-assessment report not exceeding 30 pages must be prepared by the HEI. Documents describing the premises and facilities of the institution, its long term development plans, financial documents and those certifying the property relations and explaining the governance of the institution can be appended to the self-assessment report, but it is suggested to add a list with names of these documents and information, where, when and how to receive these documents. The CVs of the academic staff and at least short description of all study courses must be appended.
At the stage of preparing the self-evaluation report a steering group should be set up, where the administration, academic staff, and students should be represented.
The decision on accreditation is made by the Council for Higher Education (for higher education institutions' accreditation) or the Accreditation Commission set up by the Ministry for Education and Science (for accreditation of study programmes) after hearing the recommendations of the Evaluation Commission. The foreign members of the Evaluation Commission have to read the self-assessment report that should be handed over in Latvian and in English (or in some other foreign language) and go for a two days visit to the higher education institution to be accredited. Evaluation committees shall be made up by at least one expert from EU, Estonia, Lithuania or another foreign country and must have at least three experts.
Public discussion of the preliminary report of Evaluation commission report must be organized at the end of expert visit. The precise Evaluation Commission final report and all individual reports of experts are submitted to Higher Education Council or Accreditation Commission which decide about accreditation. After the decision the Evaluation Commission final report is published at website www.aiknc.lv. All self evaluation reports and Evaluation Commission final reports are available at website of Higher Education Quality Evaluation Centre www.aiknc.lv.
In order to organize the assessment a specific higher educational establishment and study programme a non-profit foundation "Higher Education Quality Evaluation Centre" (HEQEC) in accordance with recommendations of the Council of Rectors as well as in compliance with the requirements of the European Union and in accordance with the recommendations of the respective institutions of the European Union shall form an Evaluation Commission with involvement of Latvian and foreign experts. The founders of HEQEC are Ministry of Education and Science and (according to a decision made by the Council of Rectors) five higher education establishments: University of Latvia, Riga Technical University, Riga Stradins University, Daugavpils University and "School of Business Turiba".
The activities of the HEQEC are supervised by the eight persons strong Board. The day-to-day activities of the HEQEC are entrusted to the Chairman of the Board elected by the meeting of the shareholders - five higher education establishments, mentioned above. Employees of the HEQEC are appointed by the order of the Chairman of the Board. Now the personnel of the HEQEC consist of 3 full time employees, including Chairman of the Board, and 2 part time employees.
HEQEC Board is overseen by HEQEC Council that consists of representatives from 12 legal persons: University of Latvia, Riga Technical University, Riga Stradins University, Daugavpils University, School of Business Administration Turiba, Latvian Association of Students, the Association of Professors of Latvian Higher Education Institutions, Latvian Union of Scientists, the Association of Latvian Private Higher Education Institutions, Education and Science Workers Trade Union, Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia, Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
HEQEC Council of Ethics gives consultations and recommendations to improve HEQEC operation. Council of Ethics consists of the following persons: Jānis Čakste (the Chairman of the HEQEC Council of Ethics), Jānis Vucāns (the Deputy Chairman of the HEQEC Council of Ethics), Vulfs Kozlinskis, Elmārs Beķeris, Baiba Rivža.
HEQEC mission statement, aims and tasks please view this document.
- promote development of higher education in Republic of Latvia;
- improve quality, effectivity and accessibility of higher education;
- provide opportunity to receive objective and complete information about quality of higher education in Latvia to all interested parties, including students, academic personnel, administration of higher education institutions, employers and professional organizations.
According to the Statutes the HEQEC has following objectives:
The approved list of accreditation shall be issued by the Minister of Education and Science.
- to work out and co-ordinate the procedures aimed at quality assessment of higher education institutions and study programmes as well as preparing peer visits in compliance with the Law on Education of the Republic of Latvia and the Law on Higher Education Institutions;
- to organize the quality assessment of higher education institutions and study programme on behalf of the Ministry for Education and Science;
- to set up commissions and working groups responsible for solving problems related to quality assessment and accreditation;
- to invite foreign experts for peer visits to higher education institutions;
- to sum up and to make public the experience obtained as the system of higher education institution and study programme quality assessment is being set up and implemented.
After receipt of the list of accreditation and confirmation of the statute (satversme) and the rector of a higher educational establishment in accordance with the procedure envisaged by the Law on Higher Educational Establishments the higher educational establishment shall be entitled to issue graduation certificates recognised by the state.
Should substantial shortcomings be found in the process of assessment of a higher educational establishment or study programme, they shall be temporarily accredited for two years.
Should the Council of Higher Education and the Accreditation Commission give a negative assessment of a higher educational establishment as well as all the study programmes thereof, it shall be denied accreditation. The following shall qualify as reasons for refusal:
- the submitted documents do not comply with requirements of laws and other legal acts;
- the qualifications of the academic staff are not sufficient;
- the premises are not up to standards advanced for higher educational establishments;
- the higher educational establishment does not make available study laboratories which would allow the students to master contemporary technologies of work.
In case of a repeated negative evaluation the accreditation refusal shall be final and the Council of Higher Education or the Accreditation Commission shall submit a recommendation to the Minister of Education and Science to either reorganise or liquidate the respective higher educational establishment.
The results of accreditation and the reasons for cancellation of the list of accreditation or accreditation for a study programme are published in the website of Higher Education Quality Evaluation Centre www.aiknc.lv and in the newspapers.
We are using the quality assurance system for the quality improvement and as tool for the reforms in higher education. External experts should be first of all advisers, supporting the creation and activities of internal quality assurance system in higher education establishments.