A roundtable titled “How to Ensure Transparency in Improving the Quality of Higher Education?” was held at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Rijeka Campus, on June 7. The roundtable was organized by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Association for the Development of Higher Education “Universitas”. The roundtable is the follow-up activity of the project “QUALITYWATCH: Croatian Higher Education Quality Watchdog “.
Photo: University of Rijeka
Ria Bilić from the Institute for the Development of Education (IDE) presented the results of Quality Watch research, which was conducted in the City of Zagreb, Osijek-Baranja County and Split-Dalmatia County. Outlining some of the key conclusions of the research, Bilić emphasized that greater transparency in the quality of work of higher education institutions could make it easier for pupils, students and their parents to make decisions on enrollment at certain higher education institutions and study programs, to pursue higher level degrees and to contribute to successful completion of the studies they enroll. On the other hand, education policy makers and employees of higher education institutions can provide a better insight into the various dimensions of the quality of work of individual higher education institutions.
Rector Prijić-Samaržija emphasized in her presentation: “I am convinced that the institutions must have the power to change, but also the public must be an important corrective. It is important to point out that we at the University of Rijeka made a shift from the concept of quality assurance to the concept of quality improvement. As the Quality Watch publication proposes, the existence of a national base for quality assurance and improvement would be great, but I do not see a barrier for starting our university’s database. We lack systematic clarity in presenting research data. ASHE (Agency for Science and Higher Education) has quality and clearly presented data.”
Ninoslav Šćukanec from IDE stressed that the dialogue should include the opinions and ratings of the civil sector, employers and professional associations, various stakeholders … and stressed in particular that transparency is not sufficient in itself, and that it is also necessary to ensure clarity and systematize institutional research which will process the data and present them to the public.
Aleksandar Šušnjar, a student representative, said that transparency here is not an “added value” but a precondition. “Students should be the co-creators of this process, as well as the whole educational process. Reports should be made simpler and more easily accessible. For now, this system is more or less reduced to student surveys, and quality information is really lacking. Of course, it is not easy to measure or present quality, but I advocate for the public announcement of all the results, including the grades for lecturers, using fair criteria and grading methodology, “concluded Šušnjar.