With Law 3374/2005, for the first time, quality assurance in Higher Education was established in Greece, as it had already been in the other 47 countries of the EHAE.The main points of the law that concern quality assurance are:
- Quality assurance procedures in higher education.
- The basic principles and indices of quality in higher education, as defined at the Conference of European Ministers Responsible for Higher Education of 47 countries in Bergen in 2005.
- The formation of the Quality Assurance Agency (HQA). The HQA began its operations in 2006 as the guardian of quality issues in higher education, governed by its president and the plenary, which is comprised of 10 HEI professors (6 university, 4 TEI) and a representative of the country’s research centres.
- The HQA is an independent body, overseen by the Ministry of Education and is centrally responsible for quality assurance in tertiary education. The purpose of the HQA is to promote within the country’s Higher Education Institutes its guidelines for the procedure of evaluation as well as to oversee, coordinate and support all evaluation procedures in higher education institutes.
- The HQA is neither a controlling or intervening body in the operations, mission and nature of Higher Education.
- The purpose of the HQA is to develop and implement a unified quality assurance system, as a reference point for the achievements and work of the Higher Education Institutions. Also, to collect and codify the vital information that would guide the state in providing effective support for Higher Education in the country.
The purpose of quality assurance, as stated in the Law, is:
" ... The systematic, documented and detailed assessment, marking and recording of the work of higher education institutions, with the use of objective criteria, and the critical analysis [of the work] ... On the basis of the evaluation results, the academic institutions and the State adopt the necessary measures in order to assure and improve the quality of the work performed by higher education institutions in the framework of their mission to provide high quality higher education. "
Law 3374/2005 also foresees the creation of a Quality Assurance Unit (HQA) in every higher education institute, in order to support and coordinate its evaluation procedures and internal quality assurance.
All the academic units (Schools and Departments) which constitute the higher education institutes are subject to evaluation, and, through them, every higher education Institute as a whole. The evaluation of each higher education institute is done on the basis of the evaluation of its constituent academic units, of which it is comprised and the evaluation of the operations of the Institute as a whole, which are based upon the internal evaluation report that each academic unit prepares on the basis of the principles and criteria established and/or specialised by the HQA, and on the external evaluation report, which is prepared by foreign experts, faculty members of foreign universities or researchers, who come to Greece, on the choice, initiative and responsibility of the HQA and who also work on the basis of the principles and criteria established and/or specialised by the HQA.
The results of the evaluation are published by the HQA in the most appropriate way, so as to ensure the greatest possible transparency in the national higher education system. Based on the results of the external evaluation, the academic institutions and the State take the necessary measures to ensure the improvement and quality of the work performed by the higher education institutes as part of their mission to provide high quality higher education.
The HQA has so far completed the external evaluation of all the academic units of the HEIs, except those that were closed, merged or renamed with the ATHENA Plan.
Law 4009/2011 has brought significant changes to the structure, operation and competences of the HQA. It has assigned to the HQA responsibility for the accreditation of the programmes of study of the academic units and higher education and replaced the plenary with an administrative council, also comprised of 11 members, Greek academics (6 university and 4 TEI).
The work done by the HQAThe HQA:
- has completed the procedures for the internal and external evaluation of 380 academic units of Greek HEIs and coordinated the visits of over 1580 foreign experts, faculty members of foreign HEIs (search for experts according to discipline on the websites of foreign universities, registration on the Register of Foreign Experts of the HQA, efforts to create five-member committees on dates acceptable to all, monitoring potential conflicts of interest, booking of domestic and foreign airline tickets, hotel reservations, monitoring the External Evaluation Reports, checking receipts and payment of transport expenses and daily allowances to the evaluators).
- Completed the compilation of the HQA’s Foreign Experts Register, which today includes 4867 foreign academics (professors, researchers, etc.) and which it gave to and incorporated into the Ministry of Education’s APELLA electronic platform.
- Supported the procedures for the election and promotion of the members of the teaching and research staff of the HEIs, in response to the demands of academic units for the selection of electors according to the regulations in article 19 of Law 4009/2011, according to which the foreign members from among the electors are selected from the HQA’s Register of Independent Experts.
- Its Documentation and Research Department has been active in collating and analysing qualitative and quantitative data, in establishing quality indices for higher education, as well as in preparing studies on the basis of the Internal Evaluation Reports of the academic units, and the Institute reports prepared by the QAUs, as well as the External Evaluation Reports. The above data and studies have been made available to the Ministry of Education so that they can be taken into account and the preparation of the ATHENA Plan.
- Studied and prepared restructuring criteria for the map of higher education, and
- Issued two opinions on the ATHENA Plan.
Finally, the HQA, pursuant to Law 4009/11, studied and prepared:
- The analysis of general accreditation criteria for programmes of study
- A proposal for the academic accreditation of programmes of study
- A course outline template
- Proposal for the evaluation of institutions and the accreditation of the internal quality assurance system.