“The Role of Transparency in Quality Enhancement of Higher Education” published as the final project publication

Project publication “The role of transparency in quality ‎enhancement of higher education” is the final publication of the project „QUALITYWATCH: Croatian Higher Education Quality Watchdog“.

The authors of the publication are Ria Bilić, Ninoslav Šćukanec, Matija Sinković, Nikolina Svalina, Slobodan Škopelja and Marko Turk.

This publication presents the main results of the QUALITYWATCH project activities. It consists of a total of seven texts on the topic (of the transparency) of quality assurance in higher education, organized into one coherent unit.

The full text of the publication can be downloaded HERE.

We open the publication with A Guide to Monitoring the Transparency of Quality Assurance in Higher Education: its main objective is to serve as a tool which will allow civil society organisations to more easily analyse public availability of internal and external quality assurance results and procedures at higher education institutions, analyse the level of development of the basic elements of quality assurance in higher education and understand official quality assessments of higher education institutions based on the official documents produced by higher education institutions and the Agency for Science and Higher Education (ASHE). Moreover, the Guide contains a brief and concise overview of the system and procedures of quality assurance in higher education in the Republic of Croatia. It is primarily intended for civil society organisations that want to positively influence changes in the area of higher education and transparency. However, it can also serve as a handy guide for researchers, policy-makers and the general public interested in monitoring the quality assurance process in higher education (for instance, students, pupils, parents, academic staff…).

Three reports on the transparency of higher education institutions’ quality assurance, drawn up based on the methodology developed in the Guide, follow next: they analyse the Zagreb County, Osijek-Baranja County and Split-Dalmatia County. The reports are the results of research conducted by project partners in their local communities by using an online questionnaire (Appendix I) and examining the official websites of higher education institutions. The aim of the reports is to provide a general picture of the transparency of quality assurance in higher education and of the level of quality of higher education in selected counties. Indirectly, we wish for these reports and the QUALITYWATCH project in general to illustrate the importance of quality assurance in higher education and to encourage higher education institutions to disclose information on quality assurance more transparently and systematically. Each report addresses three areas:

  1. Transparency of external quality assurance and enhancement procedures
  2. Transparency of internal quality assurance and enhancement procedures
  3. Analysis of the official assessments of higher education institutions’ quality.

In order to contribute to a better access to and greater legibility of all available information on quality in higher education, all three reports are accompanied with numerous graphical and table overviews.

Following next is the Feasibility Study for the Launch of a National Database for Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education. The existence of this kind of a national database would enhance the transparency of various data that are being collected or should be collected in the higher education sector. The study provides an overview of preliminary activities that would need to be carried out before launching such a database, an overview of the database’s possible content and examples of similar foreign databases that can serve as examples of good practice (UNISTATS, the Complete University Guide, U-Multirank and the Academic Ranking of World Universities – ARWU). Based on this, the Study provides proposals and recommendations for launching a Croatian national database, aimed primarily at education policies makers, and particularly at policy-makers at the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education and the Agency for Science and Higher Education (ASHE).

The final part of this publication consists of the recommendations for improving the transparency of quality assurance aimed at higher education policy-makers and decision-makers at higher education institutions. The recommendations presented are based on the conclusions and results of all the research conducted as part of the QUALITYWATCH project and we hope they will encourage all higher education institutions and competent public institutions in Croatia to increase the transparency of data relating to quality assurance. The recommendations are divided into three parts: the first part concerns the national external quality assurance system, the second part concerns the internal quality assurance systems at higher education institutions, and the third part focuses on the establishment of a national database on quality assurance in higher education.

Appendix I of this publication contains a theoretical introductory text about teaching and learning in the context of quality assurance in higher education. This part provides an overview of activities which aim to include teaching and learning into quality assurance procedures in Croatia, and a review of the two segments of the teaching and learning quality culture: the changing of the professional modus operandi of university teaching staff and the raising of the awareness of the active role of students in

Finally, Appendix II contains the Questionnaire on the Transparency of Higher Education Quality Assurance Procedures used by the researchers in drawing up the reports on the transparency of quality assurance in higher education. The online questionnaire was sent to key persons in charge of quality assurance as well as deans and vice-deans of every higher education institution in the above-mentioned counties.