The Polish Accreditation Committee (PKA) is the first independent institution, established by way of a legal act of highest importance, working within the higher education system in Poland for the improvement of the quality of education in all public and non-public higher education institutions forming the system, authorised to conduct assessments of the compliance with the requirements necessary to provide education and evaluation of its quality on the first – cycle and second – cycle. The Polish Accreditation Committee was established under the name of the State Accreditation Committee on 1 January 2002 in compliance with the act on higher education of 12 September 1990, and its tasks and working procedure became redefined and expanded by the currently effective act of 27 July 2005 Law on Higher Education. The PKA is an organisation of experts diagnosing the condition of higher education and conducting systematic activities in order to enhance the quality of education.Evaluations conducted by the 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.
Act of Law on Higher Education and executive regulations, Statutes of the PKA adopted on the plenary session of the Committee as well as criteria appointed by the Committee constitute legal basis of PKA’s activities. Operations of the Polish Accreditation Committee are financed from the state budget. Terms of office is set to 4 years. The PKA presents to the minister responsible for higher education opinions regarding programme evaluation, establishing of the HEI, authorisation (or re-granting of an authorisation) to provide degree programmes, establishing of a HEI or branch campus in Poland by a foreign HEI. Moreover, the PKA gives opinions regarding quality of education in basic organisational units of HEIs which apply for an authorisation to confer academic degrees as well as gives opinion on draft bills related to the area of higher education.
On 15th April 2009 the State Accreditation Committee was officially accepted to European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) founded to enhance transparency and trust in quality assurance. EQAR publishes and manages a register of quality assurance agencies that substantially comply with the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ESG) to provide the public with clear and reliable information on quality assurance agencies operating in Europe.
Polish Accreditation Committee is a full member of:
- Central and East European Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (CEENQA – since January 2002,
- European Consortium for Accreditation (ECA) – since December 2005 r.;
- International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE) – ince May 2007 r.;
- European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA)- since January 2009 r.;PKA also signed bilateral agreements with:
- ANECA (Spain),
- NVAO (Netherlands);
- ÖAR (Austria);
- ANQA (Armenia);
- SKVC (Lithuania);
- FIBAA (Germany).
- NEAA (Bulgaria),
- CSR (Slovakia),
- AQAS (Germany).
In 2012 U. S. National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation (NCFMEA) performed a review which proved that standards and processes used to accredit medical schools in Poland are comparable to those used to accredit medical schools in U.S. That decision was validated in 2017, as an outcome of the subsequent evaluation procedure.
FORMAL CONSEQUENCESIn case of outstanding assessment the basic organisational unit of HEI may be awarded with state budget subsidy (for three years) for the promotion of quality. Positive assessment confirms that given programme or unit meets all requirements set by the PKA. Conditional assessment means that PKA sees some weaknesses which do not allow to award positive assessment but they are not of so high importance to justify awarding a negative assessment. In such cases a follow – up procedure (usually in a following academic year).
Negative assessment awarded during programme evaluation may cause suspension or withdrawal of authorisation to offer studies on a given programme and in a given level of study. Within a term of suspension the unit can not enroll students and is requested to introduce corrective measures.
EXTERNAL ASSESSMENT OF THE PKA
In line with regulations of the Statutes of the Polish Accreditation Committee, its activities are externally assessed at least once every 5 years. The first such assessment was performed in 2008 and its outcome allowed the Committee to be registered in EQAR. The subsequent evaluation reconfirmed status of the PKA as a full member in ENQA.