External quality evaluation and accreditation in Lithuania is performed by the Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education (SKVC) which was established in 1995. SKVC now performs the following main types of evaluation:
- evaluation of existing study programmes;
- evaluation of new study programmes;
- institutional review of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs);
- evaluation of applications to establish new HEIs.
External evaluation of study programmes on a regular basis started in 1999. The main aims of external evaluation are to help Higher Education Institutions to improve the quality of their activities and to inform the society about the quality of higher education in Lithuania. The accreditation of study programmes is based on external evaluation reports. Programmes can be accredited for 3 or 6 years, they can also be given a non-accreditation decision. New study programmes are accredited for a period one year longer than the full duration of the study programme.
The Law on Higher Education and Research states that the Ministry of Education and Science initiates external evaluation of HEI activities every six years and involves foreign experts in the evaluation. The Centre is authorised by the Ministry of Education and Science to organise external evaluation of the activities of HEIs. The objective of external assessment is to determine the quality of activities of higher education institutions, to offer recommendations for improving their quality, as well as to develop the culture of quality assurance in higher education and research. HEIs can be accredited for 6 or 3 years.
The process of external quality assurance
The external evaluation or review is based on a self-evaluation report prepared by the HEI. For external evaluation SKVC assembles expert teams (local or international – in the case of study programme evaluation, international – in the case of institutional review).
The key stages in the evaluation process include
- preparation of an evaluation report (preparation of the evaluation report, its discussion at the advisory committee and publication)
- follow-up activities.
External evaluation reports are public through SKVC website.
The Law on Higher Education and Research allows HEIs to choose SKVC or another quality assurance agency that is enlisted in EQAR for evaluations of their study programmes. The programme accreditation decision (based on the external evaluation report) in Lithuania is taken only by SKVC. In the case of institutional review SKVC is the only institution authorised by the Ministry of Education and Science to organise external evaluation of activities of HEIs and to accredit them.
Main documents regulating external evaluation
Study programme evaluations:
- Procedure for the External Evaluation and Accreditation of Study Programmes approved by Order No ISAK-1652 of 24 July 2009 of the Minister for Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania;
- The Methodology for Evaluation of Higher Education Study Programmes approved by the Order No 1-01-162 of 20 December 2010 of the Director of SKVC.
- Procedure for the external review of higher education institution approved by Resolution No 1317 of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania of 22 September 2010;
- Accreditation procedure of higher education institution approved by Resolution No 1317 of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania of 22 September 2010;
- Methodology for Conducting an Institutional Review in Higher Education approved by by Order No 1-01-115 of 11 October 2010 of the Director of the Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education.