2 de março de 2007

 

O decreto da avaliação (I)

Não podia ficar alheado do processo de discussão público do anteprojecto de decreto-lei da criação da Agência de avaliação e acreditação da garantia de qualidade do ensino superior (que nome mais arrevesado!). vai ser trabalho longo, inicialmente apresentado aqui, em apontamentos sucessivos, depois provavelmente compilado num artigo final.

Começo hoje por coisa longa mas que considero importante, relembrar aos leitores as principais recomendações da ENQA, no relatório encomendado pelo governo. Não é obrigatório que o anteprojecto siga religiosamente essas recomendações, mas a comparação é instrutiva para se avaliar do interesse final ou não de tão propalado exercício internacional.

"The ENQA panel recommends that the name of the new agency reflects the recommendation below that the agency covers accreditation and evaluation/audit. The panel’s specific recommendation bears the title “The Quality Assurance Agency” and not “The Accreditation Agency”.

The ENQA panel recommends, therefore, that the new agency adopts the following definition of accreditation: The characteristic of accreditation is that the process is based on established external criteria and that the result of the process is a decision as to whether these criteria have in fact been met by the institution or programme under accreditation.

The ENQA panel recommends further that academic audit be defined by the new agency as a method for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the quality assurance frameworks and mechanisms adopted by a higher education institution for its own use in order to continuously monitor and improve its activities and results.

The ENQA panel recommends that the new agency covers all Portuguese study programmes of higher education and, accordingly, that the accreditations carried out by the national professional associations do not need to continue.

The ENQA panel recommends that higher education institutions and programmes have the formal right to let them be accredited by international accreditors, but on a self-funding basis and without the option of excusing themselves from the mandatory accreditations of the new Portuguese agency.

The ENQA panel recommends that the board of the quality assurance agency has the mandate to accept or refuse reports from other national or European operators and to make all accreditation decisions irrespective of operator responsible for the process

The ENQA panel recommends that accreditation at programme level be combined with academic audit at the level of higher education institutions.

The ENQA panel recommends
* that the new quality assurance agency decides on a first cycle of accreditations at the programme level, beginning in the second half of 2007;
* that this first cycle covers at least the BA level of study programmes in all public and private university and polytechnic study programmes;
* that the new quality assurance agency announces a future cycle of academic audits and then carefully designs an academic audit process appropriate to the needs of Portuguese higher education to be introduced following the completion of the first cycle of programme accreditations;

The ENQA panel recommends that the new agency consider introducing institutional accreditation in order to steer and regulate the number and quality of the higher education institutions.

The ENQA panel recommends establishing an agency with clear responsibilities for quality assurance and accreditation. An independent professional board appointed by government with decision-making authority should guarantee the independence of the organization. In addition, an advisory council should be established with a broader representation of relevant stakeholders.

The ENQA panel recommends that the operational independence of a new quality assurance organisation in Portugal be ensured through a legal framework that clearly describes the mandate and tasks of the quality assurance agency, while providing the necessary flexibility for the operational level to make necessary adjustments to operational procedures.

The ENQA panel recommends that an early project of the new agency be to ensure that information for each study programme needs to be publicly available and to make recommendations to the Ministry regarding the best means of providing these data.

The ENQA panel recommends establishing an agency with a strong and highly qualified staff and with a clear division of responsibilities between external expert panels and the staff

The ENQA panel recommends further that an executive director be appointed with a strong personal profile and relevant experiences in organisation building and quality assurance.

The ENQA panel recommends further that the quality assurance agency be established on the basis of a budget, which provides for a professional staff consisting of not less than twenty-five qualified members.

The ENQA panel recommends that in the establishment phase the quality assurance agency cooperates with external consultants with international experience to advice on organisational and methodological matters.

The panel recommends that members of external review panels typically number four-five members. Of these, at least two members must come from countries and or higher education institutions outside Portugal. At least one member must be from Portugal, but not represent a Portuguese higher education institution.

The ENQA panel recommends that the Portuguese government appoint representatives of student organisations to the advisory council.

The ENQA panel recommends that the view of relevant stakeholders, e.g. employers and graduates, be taken into account in external quality assurance processes.

The ENQA panel recommends:
* introducing a two-step accreditation process of pre-accreditation and ex-post accreditation in order to create a high degree of transparency and consistency in the two processes;
* that the final decision for provision of new study programmes be vested within the Ministry based on criteria for relevance and national concern.

The ENQA panel recommends:
* that programme accreditations be based on generic as well as area specific criteria in order to provide a comprehensive picture of the quality of the study programmes;
* that differentiated criteria are formulated to reflect the characteristics of study programmes offered at universities and polytechnics, respectively;
* the application of the European Qualification Framework in the definition of generic cycle-based criteria;
* that the area specific criteria cover input, processes and learning outcome that comply with the European standards, and when relevant take into account criteria applied internationally by professional associations in the respective fields.

The ENQA panel recommends:
* that the criteria be formulated through appropriate interaction between the legislative/framework-setting and the operational agency level, and that this process guarantees sufficient independence in relation to the education institutions involved;
* that the criteria for professional programmes be developed in close cooperation with the professional associations, taking into account the criteria that already exist.

The ENQA panel recommends that the quality assurance agency carries the responsibility for follow-up on conditional accreditation."

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