Polish Accreditation Committee (PKA)

The review will evaluate the way in which and to what extent the Polish Accreditation Committee (PKA) fulfills the criteria for ENQA membership and thus the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area. The evaluation is scheduled to finish October/November 2018.

Background and context
PKA was established as the State Accreditation Committee on 1 January 2002 on the basis of the amended Higher Education Act of 1990 and currently operates on the basis of the 2005 Law on Higher Education, amended in 2011, and resulting Regulations of the Minister of Science and Higher Education. It is the only statutory body responsible for external quality assurance in all Polish HEIs which operate on the basis of Law on Higher Education. PKA is a quality assurance agency conducting systematic activities in order to enhance the quality of education. Evaluations conducted by PKA are obligatory and negative assessment of the Committee may cause suspension or withdrawal of authorisation to provide degree programme in a given field of study and at a given level of study on the basis of a decision of Minister responsible for higher education.

PKA’s main functions include:

  • conducting programme evaluations;
  • giving opinions to the Minister of Science and Higher Education on (applications for):
    • the establishment of HEIs, including HEIs or branch campuses to be established by foreign HEIs;
    • the granting of authorisations to HEIs’ units to provide first-, second- or long-cycle programmes with specific fields of study and profiles (in cases where a given unit is not authorised to award postdoctoral degrees or the field of study concerned covers an academic area and domains of science / fine arts which do not correspond to those where the unit is authorised to award postdoctoral degrees; for the extent of HEIs’ curricular autonomy).

In other words, PKA conducts mandatory ex-post programme evaluations and gives opinions or acts in an advisory capacity to the Minister of Science and Higher Education as part of what may be called ex-ante programme evaluation / accreditation (though the term ‘evaluation’ or ‘accreditation’ is not used in law to refer to this process). Additionally, it gives opinions to the Minister on matters related to: the re-granting to HEIs’ units of suspended authorisations to provide first-, second- or long-cycle programmes; the compliance of first, second- and long-cycle programmes with the conditions for the provision of programmes laid down in national legislation; and the quality of education at HEIs’ units applying for an authorisation to award doctoral and postdoctoral degrees.

National legislation sets a general framework for PKA’s activities, including ex-post evaluations and the assessment of applications concerning the establishment of HEIs and programmes as part of ex- ante evaluation. However, pursuant to Law on Higher Education, PKA is free to determine detailed criteria and procedures for evaluation / assessment and to appoint experts or reviewers.

PKA’s term of office is four years. The Agency may include 80 to 90 members who may be only academic staff holding at least a doctoral degree and employed at an HEI as the place of primary employment, except that the President of the Students’ Parliament of the Republic of Poland (SPRP, a national student organisation) is a PKA member by virtue of law. Besides, under the law the representatives of employers’ organizations are also appointed to the PKA bodies and sections.

PKA has been a full member of ENQA and has been registered in EQAR since 2009, a member of several multilateral networks, including CEENQA since 2002, of ECA and INQAAHE since 2005. It has also signed bilateral cooperation agreements with a number of accreditation agencies across Europe.

PKA has been a member of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) since 2009 and is applying for renewal of membership.

PKA has been registered on the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) since 2009 and is applying for renewal of EQAR registration.

Review process
The process is designed in the light of the Guidelines for ENQA Agency Reviews and in line with the requirements of the EQAR Procedures for Applications.

The evaluation procedure consists of the following steps:

  • Formulation of the Terms of Reference and protocol for the review;
  • Nomination and appointment of the review panel;
  • Self-assessment by PKA including the preparation of a self-assessment report;
  • A site visit by the review panel to PKA;
  • Preparation and completion of the final evaluation report by the review panel;
  • Scrutiny of the final evaluation report by the ENQA Review Committee;
  • Analysis of the scrutiny by the ENQA Board and their decision regarding ENQA membership;
  • Follow-up of the panel’s and/or ENQA Board’s recommendations by the agency, including a voluntary follow-up visit.

Review panel
The panel is composed of the following members:

  • Jacques Lanarès, Vice Rector for Quality, HR and Development of Teaching, Professor in the Faculty of Social & Political Sciences, University of Lausanne (Unil), Switzerland – Chair, quality assurance professional/academic (EUA nominee)
  • Ronny Heintze, Senior Consultant, Commissioner for international projects, Agency for Quality Assurance through Accreditation of Study Programmes (AQAS), Germany – Secretary, quality assurance professional (ENQA nominee)
  • Angeline Aubert-Lotarski, Quality Coordinator at Faculty of Engineering and part-time Lecturer at Faculty of Education, University of Mons (UMONS), Belgium – Academic (ENQA nominee)
  • Inguna Zariņa, Master student (Educational Management), University of Latvia (LU), Latvia – Student (ESU nominee)

PKA’s self-assessment report is available here.

This review is being coordinated by Agnė Grajauskienė.