In the coming decades, the HQA will be called upon to undertake a central role in transforming higher education into high quality knowledge- and innovation-based education, featuring attractive institutions able to endow scientists with a creative mind-set, broad education and state-of-the-art knowledge receiving fair remuneration and recognition of qualifications in the labour market.
The Mission of the Agency is to ensure high quality in higher education. This is achieved through the periodic (every 4 years) accreditation of the quality of institutions of higher education both in respect of their internal quality assurance system and their study programmes taught in all three higher education cycles (including both short-cycle programmes, lifelong learning and distance learning) and offered by their academic units (Law 4009/2011).In addition, the Agency recommends to the Minister for Education, Research and Religious Affairs, and the governing bodies of institutions of higher education, ways and means to ensure continued high quality in higher education.
To carry out its mission, the Agency:
- establishes, organises, specifies, standardises and disseminates in advance the relevant proceses, criteria and indicators, in particular, in the framework of the common principles and guidelines of the European Higher Education Area whose guidelines have been adapted to the National Quality Assurance System by issuing the Standards for Quality Accreditation of Undergraduate Programmes and Internal Quality Assurance Systems of Greek institutions of higher education;
- develops an integrated management information system and an assessment database, in collaboration with the Quality Assurance Unit (QAU) of institutions of higher education;
- supports the institutions of higher education in the design and implementation of quality assurance and accreditation processes, and
- carries out studies and research related to its mission or assigns them to other agencies;
- draws up, keeps and updates a Register of Independent Experts;
- publishes the evaluation results and informs the state and higher education institutions of the latest international developments in related issues.
The Agency guarantees the transparency of all of its actions in the area of evaluation and accreditation of the quality of institutions of higher education.
The Agency has administrative autonomy and is overseen by the Minister of Education. It is a member of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA).
Responsibilities of the HQA for the implementation of the national strategy for higher education and the funding of institutions of higher education
The Agency advises on the national strategic plan for higher education and supports its implementation, negotiates programme design agreements with individual institutions and assesses the progress of its implementation. It also ensures the transparency of the funding criteria and recommends to the Minister of Education and the governing bodies of institutions of higher education, ways and means to ensure continued high quality in higher education.
Funding of institutions / Centres of Excellence
The Agency may recommend to the Minister of Education, Research and Religious Affairs the total or partial suspension of funding for an institution if the institution is at fault for not providing the required information and materials and the obligatory documentation.
To recognise and support best practices in quality and innovation at institutions of higher education, Centres of Excellence in higher education shall be established, in accordance with the following.
Universities, faculties, or their schools shall be elevated to the status of Centres of Excellence by the HQA, following a call for submission of candidacies and an evaluation carried out by special committees whose members are selected by lottery from the Register of Experts maintained by the Agency. The criteria for the recognition of Centres of Excellence are namely the exceptional quality and effectiveness of their teaching and research work, the efficient structure and organisation of their study programme, the linkage between teaching and research, and the high quality of support services. Evaluation criteria for candidacies and, in particular, the procedure for the recognition of Centres of Excellence are specified by decision of the Minister of Education, Research and Religious Affairs to be published in the Government Gazette following recommendation of the Agency.
Evaluating and publicising the work of the HQA
Each year, a report on the quality of higher education for the previous year is drawn up by the Agency, which is submitted to the Speaker of Parliament and the Minister of Education.
The Agency shall carry out an internal assessment of its functioning and work in accordance with the provisions of its Organisation, and shall assign an external evaluation to internationally recognised and accredited evaluators, or bodies, or other organisations engaged in similar activities at international level.
Integrity The existing institutional framework provides for the independent operation of the HQA which, for its part, acts professionally and with a great sense of responsibility in the conduct of its duties, as well as with impartiality and objectivity in decision-making.
Accountability: It is a priority for the HQA to ensure the transparency of its activities. Therefore, all of its actions and decisions are published on the Internet.
Respect for institutional autonomy: The HQA recognises the importance of the institutions’ diversity and highlights the fact that they should reserve their right to self-government.
Cooperation: The HQA supports know-how sharing, which can be useful in fulfilling its mission. It also perceives know-how both as an input and an output to every interested party with a view to improving educational opportunities.
Continuous improvement: The HQA is constantly developing and evaluating the quality of its work by enhancing its approach to assurance and promotion of quality improvement in higher education.