PKA - Polish Accreditation Committee

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Country: Poland
Name in English: PKA - Polish Accreditation Committee
National name: PKA - Polska Komisja Akredytacyjna

Agency's position within the national higher education system

Description of the agency

The Polish Accreditation Committee (PKA) is the only Polish statutory body entrusted with the responsibility of evaluating the quality of higher education. Its opinions and resolutions have legally binding effect. Quality assessment performed by PKA is obligatory.

The history of the agency

Polish Accreditation Committee was established by the Act of 20th July 2001, amending the existing Higher Education Act as a Polish State Accreditation Committee. The Law on Higher Education, adopted by the Parliament on 27 July 2005, redefined the objectives of the Committee and the amendment to the Act adopted in 2011 broaden its responsibilities ad well as set its current name.

Other quality assurance agencies authorised to operate in the country

PKA is the only accreditation organisation which opinion and resolutions have legally binding effect in Poland. Higher education institution can, however, apply for accreditation of so called "community accreditation agencies". Such accreditation is optional – it takes place upon a motion of higher education institution or consent of its authorities and negative outcome does not have legally binding effect.

Legal framework

The legal framework of PKA is defined by the Law on Higher Education of 27 July 2005 (with later amendments) and executory regulations.

Independence

PKA enjoys full operational and strategic independence in its goals, tasks and applied standards as well as criteria. PKA stipulates its organisational structure and methods of operation, as well as powers of its bodies, methods for making assessments and proposals, as well as appointing experts, and based on its statute, relevant procedures and criteria for the assessment of quality of education. Dismissal of a Committee member is possible only upon a request of Presidium of PKA.

Funding

PKA is financed from the state budget. No fees are charged from higher education institutions

Quality assurance procedures

Main procedures

Evaluation (initial, programme and institutional)

  • Target institutions:
    • All higher education institutions
      • Target programmes:
        • All higher education programmes
Quality Assurance Procedures
One of the first stages of the assessment procedure is the preparation of a self-evaluation report by a HEI. The rules for the preparation of self-evaluation reports by HEIs and their contents have been specified in a template of self-evaluation report, which describes the method for presenting the aspects of the teaching process, which are indispensable for staging quality assurance procedure, has been developed.
The panel of experts appointed by the Secretary of the Committee is the first reader of the self-evaluation report. The composition of the panel of experts depends on type of evaluation (programme or institutional) and is subject specific.
The panel of experts analyses materials sent by the HEI and prepares a list of matters that need to be explained or for which additional documents are required.
Next, the panel visits the institution in accordance with the schedule, which includes, among others, meeting stakeholders.
The decision-making process in quality assurance procedure is divided into three stages.
Stage 1 includes detailed and precise analysis by the members of the panel of experts of each criterion set by PKA regarding quality assurance standards (interim reports prepared by individual members of the panel include comments on each assessment criterion). In the final report, the chair of the panel of experts presents agreed opinion on quality of education.
Stage 2 of the decision-making process includes discussion on the opinion described in the above-mentioned report at the meeting of a PKA's section for domain of science or art, to which the accredited programme or organizational unit belongs. The chair of the panel presents details of the assessment report and response of HEI authorities to the report. The latter often includes crucial information and is always taken into consideration during formulation of the quality assessment proposal. The section votes on assessment proposal to be recommended during meeting ot he Presidium of PKA.
Stage 3 of the decision-making process includes discussion of PKA Presidium members on proposal of the section, which stipulates in detail the degree of meeting each of quality assurance standards. At a session of the Presidium of the Committee, the President of PKA puts the proposed assessments to vote.

Procedures of PKA

Consequences of quality assurance

In the case of awarding an outstanding assessment to a programme, the minister who grants a state subsidy for the performance of statutory tasks by the HEI, related among others with the teaching of students, may award it with additional funds.

In the case of a negative assessment, the minister responsible for higher education, who in particular takes into account the type and scope of shortcomings reported, may withdraw or suspend, by decision, the authorisation to provide the programme. During the period of suspension of the authorisation of an organisational unit to provide the programmes at a given level of study, the enrolment of students are suspended. The reinstating of the suspended authorisation to provide the programme at a given level of study is conducted pursuant to the rules and procedures applicable to the granting of new authorisations.

The conditional assessment is given for a period of one year and is awarded when quality of education is not satisfactory, yet shortcomings are not crucial.

The negative institutional assessment will result in conducting the programme assessment of all programmes delivered by the unit.

Validity of the decision(s)

Outstanding and positive: a subsequent assessment is carried on after – respectively – 8 and 6 years, unless there are reasons to conduct a reassessment at an earlier date. Conditional: specifies the deficiencies that should be repaired and the date of conducting the reassessment visit in the next academic year.


Publications policy

All assessments given by PKA as well as list of higher education institutions selected for assessment in a given academic year are made publicly available on PKA's website (http://www.pka.edu.pl). Moreover PKA publishes also assessment reports and reports on its activities (yearly and thematic).

(Legal) appeal system

A HEI not satisfied with a resolution adopted by the Presidium may request the reconsideration of the matter within thirty days from the date of the resolution’s receipt. Such a request is investigated within two months from its receipt by separate Section for Appeals. Section prepares detailed opinions which are presented by the Chair of the Section during the Presidium meeting where the cases subjected to appeal are discussed. Members of the Presidium take decision on the basis of arguments presented, discussion and agreed conclusions. The Chair of the Appeals Body has a right to vote. Both the resolution on the quality assessment and the award of authorisation to provide education in a given field of study and level of education may be subject of the appeal.

Figures on Quality Assurance Procedures

From 2002 until 2014, PKA has assessed over 5000 programmes and made over 5500 initial accreditation decisions

International activities

Member of international quality assurance networks / organisations

Have there been any relevant external reviews of your agency?

Yes, in 2008 and 2013/2014.

Listed on the European Quality Assurance register?

Yes.

Accreditation procedures in another jurisdiction?

Yes.

Agreements concerning the recognition of accreditation results with

FH Council (FHR), Commision des Titres d'Ingénieurs (CTI), Austrian Accreditation Council (ÖAR), Organ für Akkreditierung und Qualitätssicherung der Schweizerischen Hochschulen (OAQ), Nederlands-Vlaamse Accreditatieorganisatie (NVAO), Agencia Nacional de Evaluación de la Calidad y Acreditación (ANECA),