Turkish Higher Education Quality Council (THEQC)
The review will evaluate the way in which and to what extent the Turkish Higher Education Quality Council (THEQC) 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 in June 2020.
Background and context
Turkish Higher Education Quality Board was founded as part of the “Higher Education Quality Assurance Regulation” that entered in force on 23rd July 2015. The Board was reorganized and renamed as the Higher Education Quality Council (THEQC) according to the Additional Provision No. 35 added to the Law No. 2547 on Higher Education following the enactment of the Law No. 7033 on Amendment of Certain Laws and Executive Orders on 1st July 2017. By this law, THEQC has gained both administrative and financial independence. As a result, THEQC has become the only national body responsible for quality assurance in the Turkish higher education system. In this respect, THEQC has become a national authority by law to independently evaluate Turkish higher education institutions. THEQC consists of 13 members, including a student representative. Furthermore, almost all major stakeholders of higher education system of Turkey have representation in THEQC. THEQC’s mission is to enhance the quality assurance system of higher education in Turkey in order to contribute to the continuous improvement of higher education institutions and the achievement of universal competences by individuals. In addition, the vision of THEQC is to be an effective and internationally recognized institution in the field of quality assurance in higher education. In this regard, THEQC aims to implement and enhance the quality assurance processes of the national higher education system by supporting the internal quality assurance system and the progress of quality culture, and conducting the external evaluation of the higher education institutions. Consequently, THEQC can significantly contribute to the enhancement of intellectual capital and sustainable development of the society in a transparent, accountable and collaborative manner. The primary duties of THEQC are: external evaluation of higher education institutions; coordination of the authorization process of national and recognition process of international accreditation agencies; internalization and dissemination of quality assurance culture in higher education institutions.
THEQC contributes to the progress of quality assurance system within HEIs by requesting Institutional Self-Evaluation Reports (ISERs) on annual basis. THEQC has also performed the institutional external evaluation of HEIs through independent and well-trained as well as experienced external evaluation teams. According to the related rules and regulations, HEIs are required to undergo institutional external evaluation at least once in every five years. The main purpose of institutional external evaluation program is to evaluate processes related to learning and teaching, research and development, and governance system of HEIs. The external evaluation teams prepare Institutional Feedback Reports (IFRs) after their site visits, which are the most valuable output of the external evaluation process of HEIs. THEQC and HEIs publicly announce and share both ISERs and IFRs through their official web pages in terms of transparency principle. As an evidence of internalization of the accountability principle, THEQC identifies strengths and weakness of higher education system by publishing “Annual Situation Reports” through the consolidation of both ISERs and IFRs. In this Annual Situation Report, THEQC sheds light to the drawbacks as well as the gains/improvements of the higher education system in Turkey from a holistic approach. Every stakeholder of the higher education system can benefit from this report in designing its strategies and policies.
In addition to institutional external evaluation program, THEQC also authorizes or recognizes accreditation agencies operating in the Turkish Higher Education Quality Assurance System. External evaluation services for program accreditation in higher education institutions is conducted by the independent accreditation agencies, which are authorized or recognized by THEQC. In line with its internationalization vision, THEQC recognizes international accreditation agencies as well. During 2019, THEQC builds up mutual collaboration with three international accreditation agencies, which show evidence of compliance with ESG as well as with national standards and principles. Besides, THEQC gave authorization to 11 national accreditation agencies from different disciplines. During authorization and recognition procedures, THEQC looks for compliance of agencies with both national and international standards and principles.
Finally, THEQC arranges activities for the development and dissemination of quality culture in higher education system. In parallel, THEQC provides guidance services, organizes events and engages in various publishing activities that help HEIs to build up a quality assurance culture in higher education system. Organizing trainings, workshops and meetings; distributing guideline documents; publishing Council’s e-newsletter; developing “Quality Assurance Management Information System-QAMIS” for HEIs; creating an online platform with training videos and knowledge-base; implementing mentorship program for the HEIs that will undergo institutional external evaluation are among the prominent activities of THEQC. It is also noteworthy to mention the development and usage of a distinctive “QAMIS”, which has several interfaces for different users: HEIs, external evaluation teams, accreditation agencies, and the members of THEQC. The QAMIS facilitates procedures, enables monitoring of the improvements over the years for HEIs, and reduces the workload of different users.
As of 2019, there are 207 HEIs in Turkey, and of those 129 are state universities, 73 are foundation universities, and 5 are foundation vocational schools. Currently, all of these institutions comprise of 26.198 programs, 12.628 master’s programs, and 5.539 Ph.D. programs. For 2018-2019 academic year, a total of 7.740.502 students were enrolled in HEIs; including 4.420.699 in bachelor’s programs, 394.174 in master’s programs, and 96.199 in doctoral programs. The current structure of the Turkish higher education system is in compliance with the three-cycle system (bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate degree) introduced by the Bologna Process. Since 2016, all HEIs in Turkey had to prepare their Institutional Self-Evaluation Reports (ISERs) on annual basis as a requisite of quality assurance system (ISERs can be accessed through http://yokak.gov.tr/raporlar/kurum-ici-degerlendirme-raporlari). During the last four years, THEQC completed the external evaluation process of 160 HEIs out of 206, and authorized independent national accreditation agencies and recognized international accreditation agencies that show evidence of compliance with ESG as well as with national standards and principles, which were declared on THEQC’s web page (http://yokak.gov.tr/akreditasyon-kuruluslari/akreditasyon-kuruluslari-yetkilendirme-taninma).
THEQC has been an affiliate of ENQA since February 2019 and is applying for ENQA membership.
THEQC is applying for EQAR registration for the first time.
This review will evaluate the way in which and to what extent THEQC fulfils the requirements of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG). Consequently, the review will provide information to the Board of ENQA to aid its consideration of whether membership of THEQC should be granted and to EQAR to support THEQC application to the register.
The panel is composed of the following members:
- Fiona Crozier, Independent worker, former Head of International, Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), UK – Chair, quality assurance professional (ENQA nominee)
- Simona Lache, Professor and Vice-rector for Internationalization and Quality Evaluation, Transilvania University of Brasov, Romania – Secretary, academic (EUA nominee)
- Luis Carlos Velón Sixto, Internal and External Quality Manager, Agency for Quality Assurance in the Galician University System, Spain – Quality assurance professional (ENQA nominee)
- Samin Sedghi Zadeh, Student of medicine and surgery, University of Turin, Italy – Student (ESU nominee, member of the European Students’ Union Quality Assurance Student Experts Pool)