The Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education (SKVC) is a national external quality assurance agency, operating since 1995. SKVC now performs the following types of evaluation:
The Law on Higher Education and Research states that the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport initiates external review of HEI activities every seven years. SKVC is authorised by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport to organise external review of the activities of HEIs. The objective of external review is to determine the quality of the performance activities of Higher Education Institution based on findings of the external review, to create prerequisites for improvement of a Higher Education Institution, to promote a culture of quality, and to inform founders, academic community and the society about the quality of Higher Education Institutions. HEIs can be accredited for 7 or 3 years.
External evaluation of study programmes on a regular basis started in 1999. Later on, it was decided to transit from separate study programmes to evaluation of study fields in order to see the systematic view of all studies organized in Lithuania. Since 2020 evaluation of study fields has been started to proceed. All study programmes of the same study field are evaluated at the same time in all Lithuanian Higher Education Institutions.
The main aims of external evaluation are to help Higher Education Institutions to improve the quality of their activities and to inform the society about the quality of higher education in Lithuania. The accreditation of study fields is based on external evaluation reports. Study fields can be accredited for 3 or 7 years, they can also be given a non-accreditation decision. New study programmes are accredited for the same period as the study field.
The process of external evaluation
The external evaluation or review is based on a self-evaluation report prepared by the HEI. For external evaluation SKVC assembles international expert teams. SKVC selects experts on the basis of the directory of experts that is consistently updated and revised in the electronic information system of SKVC. The Directory is compiled in observance of public information and proposals that may be made by higher education and research institutions, the Research Council of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, the Lithuanian Students Union, students’ representations of higher education institutions and the European Students’ Union, professional and creative associations and organisations, ministries and other state institutions or bodies, state institutions, business and industrial companies or organisations, educational or other institutions interested in the training of specialists. Usually the expert team consists of the experts from higher education and research institutions, at least one representative of social partner and one student.
The key stages in the review process include:
- evaluation/review report;
- follow-up activities;
- examination of complains.
All external evaluation and review reports are public through SKVC website.
The Law on Higher Education and Research allows HEIs to choose SKVC or another quality assurance agency that is enlisted in EQAR for evaluations of their study fields or study programmes. The study field accreditation decision in Lithuania is taken only by SKVC. In the case of institutional review SKVC is the only institution authorised by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport to organise external evaluation of activities of HEIs and to accredit them.
Main documents regulating external evaluation
The following documents regulate institutional review:
- Procedure for the External Review and Accreditation of Higher Education Institutions proved by Order No V-1529 of 19 December 2019 of the Minister for Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Lithuania;
- Methodology for Conducting Institutional Review of Higher Education Institution approved by Order No V-32 of 9 March 2020 of the Director of SKVC.
The following documents regulate evaluation of study fields and study programmes:
- Procedure for the External Evaluation and Accreditation of Studies approved by Order No V-835 of 17 July 2019 of the Minister for Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Lithuania;
- Methodology of External Evaluation of Study Fields approved by Order No V-149 of 31 December 2019 of the Director of SKVC;
- Methodology for Evaluation of New Study Programmes approved by Order No V-149 of 31 December of the Director of SKVC.
Documents applicable to all external quality assurance procedures, done by SKVC:
Experts Selection Procedure approved by Order No. V-149 of 31 December 2019 of the Director of SKVC;
Procedure of Organisation of Experts' Work approved by Order No. V-149 of 31 December 2019 of the Director of SKVC.