Framework for initial accreditation of new Associate degree programmes

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1 Framework for initial accreditation of new Associate degree programmes 9 September 2013

2 Contents Initial accreditation of new Associate degree programmes 4 2 The assessment 15 3 Assessment scales for the assessment 21 4 Assessment rules 22 5 Appeal procedures 23 6 Appendix 24 page 3

3 Initial accreditation of new Associate degree programmes 1.1 Introduction The frameworks for the limited and extensive accreditation of new Associate degree programmes are a part of the Assessment Frameworks of the accreditation system for higher education of 6 December 2010, most recently amended on 22 November 2011, and concern a specific development of the limited and extensive framework for initial accreditation. The frameworks for limited and extensive initial accreditation of new Associate degree programmes follow the same standards set for the respective initial accreditation frameworks. An explanation is added for each standard, if necessary, for the assessment of the application of the Associate degree programme. An institution of higher education can only apply for an initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme as a part of an accredited professional Bachelor s degree programme (referred to hereinafter also as a Bachelor s programme) or as a part of an initial accreditation of a Bachelor s programme (professional orientation). In respect of applications for the initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme at publicly funded institutions, a macro-efficiency check is first conducted if the Associate degree programme falls under an already existing Bachelor s programme (with the relevant modes of study and sites) or if the institution is, at the same time, applying for an initial accreditation of a Bachelor s programme. In respect of applications for Associate degree programmes that a university of applied sciences/university college wants to offer in far-reaching collaboration with one or more adult and vocational education institutions, the quality of the collaboration between the institutions involved is also assessed by means of an assessment of the collaboration agreement concerning the Associate degree programme (pertaining to the situation in which a maximum of 50% of the curriculum is offered on site at the adult and vocational education institution 1 ; see Article 7.8a, paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Dutch Higher Education and Research Act [Wet op het hoger onderwijs en wetenschappelijk onderzoek]. As the future owner of the Associate degree programme, the university of applied sciences/university college bears final responsibility. Both the limited and the extensive frameworks for Initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme contain a separate (optional) assessment standard for this. Universities of applied sciences/university colleges that, following a period in which they offer an approved Associate degree programme, decide to enter into far-reaching collaboration with an adult and vocational education institution should still have this collaboration assessed by NVAO. The university of applied sciences/college university approaches NVAO to arrange this. Universities of applied sciences/university colleges that decide to offer the Associate degree programme entirely on their own following an initial collaboration with an adult and vocational education institution should report this decision to NVAO, whereupon an additional initial accreditation of the Associate degree programme in question is conducted. 1 This generally pertains to the first year of study, but in any case not to the completion phase that is offered by the university of applied sciences/university college itself. page 4

4 The framework for the limited initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme applies to universities of applied sciences/university colleges that submitted an application for the institutional audit to NVAO in 2011 in the context of the introduction regime and that received a positive decision concerning the institutional audit or for whom the institutional audit will be conducted no later than in 2013 and will conclude no later than the start of Universities of applied sciences/university colleges that submit an application for the Institutional Audit starting in 2014 must first successfully complete this audit in order to qualify for the use of the limited framework for the initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme when applying for the initial accreditation of such Associate degree programme. The framework for an extensive initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme applies to institutions that have not submitted an application for the institutional audit, or that choose to have their Bachelor s programmes and Associate degree programmes assessed based on the extensive framework. 1.2 Limited initial accreditation of new Associate degree programmes The set-up The assessment is accomplished on the basis of the assessment of an information dossier and a discussion with the assessment panel during a hearing or a site visit (see paragraph ). The panel consists of peers. It assesses the content and quality of the Associate degree programme and focuses on answering three questions: 1. What is the Associate degree programme s aim? 2. How does the Associate degree programme intend to achieve this? 3. How does the Associate degree programme intend to assess this? These three questions have been translated into three standards. An assessment panel gives a substantiated assessment on these standards according to a two-point scale: unsatisfactory or satisfactory. The panel then gives a substantiated final assessment of the quality of the Associate degree programme in the form of a recommendation to NVAO. The panel has three possibilities here: a positive recommendation, a positive recommendation under conditions, or a negative recommendation Essential conditions If the Bachelor s degree programme is undergoing improvement (application of improvement period), it cannot submit an application for an Associate degree programme (Article 5a.13 of the Dutch Higher Education and Research Act [Wet op het hoger onderwijs en wetenschappelijk onderzoek]. The name of the Associate degree programme may vary somewhat from the name of the corresponding Bachelor s programme, but the relationship with the Bachelor s programme must be clearly visible in the name. The Associate degree programme may be offered in each mode of study (full-time, part-time or work-based) and this offer may vary from the existing modes of study for the Bachelor s programme. Irrespective of the mode(s) of study of the Associate degree programme, the institution should ensure that a feasible follow-up path is available for graduates of the page 5

5 Associate degree programme within the Bachelor s programme. To realise a new Associate degree programme, publicly funded institutions should apply for the consent of the Minister. This application should be addressed to the Higher Education Efficiency Committee (Commissie Doelmatigheid Hoger Onderwijs - CDHO). To expand an existing Associate degree programme with a new site also requires an efficiency check. The university of applied sciences/university college may submit applications for different Associate degree programmes within one Bachelor s programme. Substantive conditions are attached to such a move (see standard 1 of the framework). A new Associate degree programme consists of new programme components, as well as programme components from the existing Bachelor s programme. This means that the assessment will in part be made on the basis of plans, but also in part on the basis of the quality achieved (e.g. of the assessment and assessment procedure) Assessment framework for the limited initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme Standard 1: Intended learning outcomes The intended learning outcomes of the Associate degree programme have been specified with respect to content, level and orientation, and meet international requirements. The intended learning outcomes fit within the Netherlands Qualification Framework (NLQF, level 5) with respect to level and orientation (Associate degree and professional orientation). They also correspond with the current requirements set from an international perspective by the professional field and the discipline for the content of an Associate degree programme. The Associate degree programme demonstrates that recent, active substantive consultation was held about the professional profile of the Associate degree programme with a representative group of representatives from the relevant professional field. This cooperation is apparent from documents that reflect the development process and the result of this process: a validated professional profile. These documents are added to the information dossier. The professional profile of the Associate degree programme and the corresponding Bachelor s programme are found within the same discipline, but the Associate degree programme has its own profile to distinguish it from the Bachelor s programme. The learning outcomes of the Associate degree programme are a component of the learning outcomes of the Bachelor s programme and meet the requirements of the Dublin Descriptors for the Short Cycle (see Appendix 1). The Associate degree programme also accounts for the difference with the learning outcomes for the Bachelor s programme. The Associate degree programme makes clear what positions and/or professions it is focused on and how its approach level differs from positions and/or professions that fall within the scope of intermediate vocational programmes (MBO-4) and Bachelor s programmes, respectively. page 6

6 Standard 2: Teaching and learning environment The Associate degree programme curriculum, the staff and the specific teaching facilities/services make it possible for incoming students to realise the intended learning outcomes. The content and design of the Associate degree programme curriculum enable the admitted students to achieve the intended learning outcomes. The quality of the staff and the specific teaching facilities/services are essential to this. Curriculum, staff and facilities/services form a cohesive teaching and learning environment for the students. The Associate degree programme indicates the differences between the Associate degree programme and the Bachelor s degree programme with respect to: - the content and the structure of the curriculum - the literature used and the study material - the professional skills to be learnt (including reflective skills) The Associate degree programme comprises a concluding component, which means that it constitutes an independent curriculum within the Bachelor s programme. The university of applied sciences/university college makes the connection of the Associate degree programme with the Bachelor s programme apparent and demonstrates that students from the Associate degree programme are able, by means of at least one feasible follow-up path of no more than 150 ECs, to realise the learning outcomes of the Bachelor s programme. The Associate degree programmes provided by publicly funded universities of applied sciences/university colleges should be accessible and feasible for all students that meet the legal enrolment requirements. In the information given to potential students, the publicly funded university of applied sciences/university college can make it clear at which target group the Associate degree programme is primarily aimed. Associate degree programmes provided by privately funded programmes can be aimed at specific target groups. However, Associate degree programmes may not be company training programmes. They are profession-oriented programmes, i.e., students attend a programme that is focused on a defined professional level (rather than on one or more positions in a particular company or organisation) and that prepares them to achieve the learning outcomes that meet the Dublin Descriptors, Short Cycle. After completing the Associate degree programme, students should be able, if they choose, to move on to the Bachelor s programme within the conditions stated above. The university of applied sciences/university college makes an express effort to prevent the entire student population from consisting of a group of employees in one company or organisation. Standard 3: Assessment procedure The Associate degree programme has a sufficient system of assessment. page 7

7 This is apparent from the interim and concluding forms of assessment. This assessment procedure is valid, reliable and transparent to students. Standard 4: Collaboration with an adult and vocational education institution (optional) The university of applied sciences/university college demonstrates that the teaching in the Associate degree programme, as offered in collaboration with adult and vocational education institution, meets the set requirements with respect to the deployed staff, facilities/services, internal quality assurance and conditions for continuity. If the university of applied sciences/university college offers the Associate degree programme in a far-reaching collaboration with an adult and vocational education institution, as described in the introduction, then the applying university of applied sciences/university college should demonstrate via a collaboration agreement that the university of applied sciences/university college and the adult and vocational education institution together meet the set requirements with respect to the deployed staff, facilities/services, internal quality assurance and conditions for continuity with regard to the Associate degree programme (see Order in Council , Bulletin of Acts, Order and Decrees 2012, 355, provisional decree on partial provision of Associate degree programme on site at adult and vocational education institution). The requirements as formulated in the standards 8 up to and including 16 of the extensive framework for the initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme apply here, with the exception of standard 15 (assessment procedure). General conclusion The quality of the Associate degree programme is Unsatisfactory, satisfactory under conditions, satisfactory. (Considered and substantiated.) The following definitions are used for the assessment. These definitions pertain to both the scores for the standards and the scores for the Associate degree programme as a whole. Generic quality The quality that, from an international perspective, may be reasonably expected of an Associate degree programme within higher education. Unsatisfactory The Associate degree programme does not meet the generic quality. Satisfactory under conditions The Associate degree programme does not yet meet the generic quality, but it is considered able to meet the set conditions within one year. Satisfactory The Associate degree programme meets the generic quality. page 8

8 1.3 Extensive initial accreditation of new Associate degree programmes The set-up The assessment is accomplished on the basis of the assessment of an information dossier and a discussion with the assessment panel during a hearing or a site visit (see paragraph 2.2.3). The panel consists of peers. It assesses the content and quality of the Associate degree programme and focuses on answering seven questions: 1. What is the Associate degree programme s aim? 2. With what curriculum? 3. With what staff? 4. With what facilities/services? 5. How will the quality be guaranteed? 6. How does the Associate degree programme intend to assess this? 7. Are there sufficient financial resources? These seven questions have been translated into seven themes and 16 standards. On these standards, an assessment panel gives a substantiated assessment on a two-point scale: unsatisfactory or satisfactory. The panel then gives a substantiated final assessment of the quality of the Associate degree programme in the form of a recommendation to NVAO. The panel has three possibilities here: a positive recommendation, a positive recommendation under conditions, or a negative recommendation. Essential conditions If the Bachelor s programme is undergoing improvement (application of improvement period), it cannot submit an application for an Associate degree programme (Article 5a.13 of the Dutch Higher Education and Research Act [Wet op het hoger onderwijs en wetenschappelijk onderzoek]. The name of the Associate degree programme may vary somewhat from the name of the corresponding Bachelor s programme, but the relationship with the programme must be clearly visible in the name. The Associate degree programme may be offered in each mode of study (full-time, part-time or work-based) and this offer may vary from the existing modes of study for the Bachelor s programme. Irrespective of the mode(s) of study of the Associate degree programme, the institution should ensure that a feasible follow-up path is available for graduates of the Associate degree programme within the Bachelor s programme. To realise a new Associate degree programme, publicly funded institutions should apply for the consent of the Minister. This application should be addressed to the Higher Education Efficiency Committee (Commissie Doelmatigheid Hoger Onderwijs - CDHO). To expand an existing Associate degree programme with a new site also requires an efficiency assessment. The university of applied sciences/university college may submit applications for different Associate degree programmes within one Bachelor s programme. Substantive conditions are attached to such a move (see standard 1 of the framework). page 9

9 A new Associate degree programme consists of new programme components, as well as programme components from the existing Bachelor s programme. This means that the assessment will in part be made on the basis of plans, but also in part on the basis of the realised quality (e.g. of the assessment and assessment procedure) Assessment framework for the extensive initial accreditation of new Associate degree programmes Standard 1: Intended learning outcomes The intended learning outcomes of the Associate degree programme have been specified with respect to content, level and orientation, and meet international requirements. The intended learning outcomes fit within the Netherlands Qualification Framework (NLQF, level 5) with respect to level and orientation (Associate degree and professional orientation). They also correspond with the current requirements set from an international perspective by the professional field and the discipline for the content of an Associate degree programme. The Associate degree programme demonstrates that recent, active substantive consultation was held about the professional profile of the Associate degree programme with a representative group of representatives from the relevant professional field. This cooperation is apparent from documents that reflect the development process and the result of this process: a validated professional profile. These documents are added to the information dossier. The professional profile of the Associate degree programme and the corresponding Bachelor s programme are found within the same discipline, but the Associate degree programme has its own profile to distinguish it from the Bachelor s programme. The learning outcomes of the Associate degree programme are a component of the learning outcomes of the Bachelor s programme and meet the requirements of the Dublin Descriptors for the Short Cycle (see Appendix 1). The Associate degree programme also accounts for the difference with the learning outcomes for the Bachelor s programme. The Associate degree programme makes clear what positions and/or professions the Associate degree programme is focused on and how its approach level differs from positions and/or professions that fall within the scope of intermediate vocational programmes (MBO-4) and Bachelor s programmes, respectively. Standard 2: Curriculum The orientation of the curriculum of the Associate degree programme guarantees the development of skills in the area of professional practice. The curriculum of the Associate degree programme has demonstrable ties with current developments in the professional field and the discipline. page 10

10 The Associate degree programme indicates the differences between the Associate degree programme and the Bachelor s programme with respect to: - the content and the structure of the curriculum - the literature used and the study material - the professional skills to be learnt (including reflective skills) Standard 3: The content of the curriculum of the Associate degree programme offers students the possibility of achieving the intended learning outcomes. The learning outcomes have been sufficiently translated into learning objectives of (components of) the curriculum. Students follow a cohesive curriculum. The Associate degree programme comprises a concluding component, which means that it constitutes an independent curriculum within the Bachelor s programme. The university of applied sciences/university college makes the connection of the Associate degree programme with the Bachelor s degree programme apparent and demonstrates that students from the Associate degree programme are able, by means of at least one feasible follow-up path of no more than 150 ECs, to realise the learning outcomes of the Bachelor s programme. Standard 4: Standard 5: The design of the curriculum encourages studying and offers students the possibility of achieving the intended learning outcomes. The teaching concept is in line with the intended learning outcomes and the teaching methods correspond with the teaching concept. The Associate degree programme corresponds with the qualifications of the incoming students. The legal admission requirements followed are realistic with a view to the intended learning outcomes. The Associate degree programmes provided by publicly funded universities of applied sciences/university colleges should be accessible and feasible for all students that meet the legal enrolment requirements. In the information given to potential students, the publicly funded university of applied sciences/university college can make clear at which the target group the Associate degree programme is primarily aimed. Associate degree programmes provided by privately funded programmes can be aimed at specific target groups. However, Associate degree programmes may not be company training programmes. They are profession-oriented programmes, i.e., students attend a programme that is focused on a defined professional level (rather than on one or more positions in a particular company or organisation) and that prepares them to achieve the page 11

11 learning outcomes that meet the Dublin Descriptors, Short Cycle. After completing the Associate degree programme, students should be able, if they choose, to move on to the Bachelor s programme within the conditions stated above. The university of applied sciences/university college makes an express effort to prevent the entire student population from consisting of a group of employees in one company or organisation. Standard 6: Standard 7: Standard 8: Standard 9: Standard 10: Standard 11: The Associate degree programme is feasible. Factors that pertain to the curriculum and that inhibit the progress of study are removed as much as possible. Students with a functional limitation also receive extra educational career guidance on this aspect. The Associate degree programme meets the legal requirements with respect to size and duration. Size and duration: - Associate degree programme: minimum of 120 ECs Staff The university of applied sciences/university college has an effective staff policy with respect to the Associate degree programme. The staff policy provides for the qualifications, training, assessment and size of staff necessary to realise the Associate degree programme. The staff of the Associate degree programme are qualified for the content-related, educational and organisational realisation of the Associate degree curriculum. The expertise actually possessed by the staff corresponds with the requirements set for a profession-oriented degree programme. The size of the staff is sufficient for the realisation of the Associate degree programme. Facilities The accommodations and the material facilities are sufficient for the realisation of the Associate degree programme. page 12

12 Standard 12: The tutoring and information provided to students promote the progress of their studies and correspond with the needs of the students. Standard 13: Standard 14: Quality assurance The Associate degree programme is evaluated periodically, partly on the basis of verifiable objectives. The Associate degree programme monitors the quality of the intended learning outcomes, the curriculum, the staff, the facilities/services, the assessment procedure and the realised learning outcomes via regular evaluations. The Associate degree programme also collects management information pertaining to the success rates and the staff-student ratio. The programme committee and examinations committee, employees, students, alumni and the professional field targeted by the Associate degree programme are actively involved in the internal quality assurance. The university of applied sciences/university college determines for itself whether the programme and examination committees of the Bachelor s programme also comprise representatives of the Associate degree programme or that separate committees will be formed for the Associate degree programme. Standard 15: Standard 16: Assessment procedure The Associate degree programme has a sufficient system of assessment. This is apparent from the interim and concluding forms of assessment. This assessment procedure is valid, reliable and transparent to students. Graduation guarantee and financial resources The university of applied sciences/university college gives students the guarantee that they can progress through the entire Associate degree programme and will make sufficient financial resources available. The graduation guarantee covers a reasonable period that is related to the length of studies for the Associate degree programme. The assessment of financial resources takes place generally and only in service of the continuity of the Associate degree programme. Standard 17: Collaboration with an adult and vocational education institution (optional) The university of applied sciences/university college demonstrates that the teaching in the Associate degree programme, as offered in collaboration with adult and vocational education institution, meets the set requirements with respect to the deployed staff, facilities/services, internal quality assurance and conditions for continuity. page 13

13 If the university of applied sciences/university college offers the Associate degree programme in a far-reaching collaboration with an adult and vocational education institution, as described in the introduction, then the applying university of applied sciences/university college should demonstrate via a collaboration agreement that the university of applied sciences/university college and the adult and vocational education institution together meet the set requirements with respect to the deployed staff, facilities/services, internal quality assurance and conditions for continuity with regard to the Associate degree programme (see Order in Council , Bulletin of Acts, Order and Decrees 2012, 355, provisional decree on partial provision of Associate degree programme on site at adult and vocational education institution). The requirements as formulated in the standards 8 up to and including 16 of the extensive framework for the initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme apply here, with the exception of standard 15 (assessment procedure). General conclusion The quality of the Associate degree programme is Unsatisfactory, satisfactory under conditions, satisfactory. (Considered and substantiated.) The following definitions are used for the assessment. These definitions pertain to the scores for the standards and to the scores for the Associate degree programme as a whole. Generic quality The quality that, from an international perspective, may be reasonably expected of an Associate degree programme within higher education. Unsatisfactory The Associate degree programme does not meet the generic quality. Satisfactory under conditions The Associate degree programme does not yet meet the generic quality, but it is considered able to meet the set conditions within one year. Satisfactory The Associate degree programme meets the generic quality. page 14

14 2 The assessment 2.1 The assessment panel NVAO convenes the assessment panel that performs the initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme and appoints the members of this panel. The institution has the right to lodge well-reasoned internal appeals against the composition of the panel. It is important that the assessment panel is composed in such a manner as to make a useful discussion between peers possible, so that the panel is sufficiently independent. The Secretary of the panel has undergone training provided by NVAO and this has led to the certification of the Secretary. NVAO publishes a list of secretaries it has certified every year. The panel must meet the following requirements: 1. the panel consists of at least three members, one of whom is an authoritative subject/discipline expert 2 and one student; 2. the panel as a whole possesses the following expertise: a. professional expertise in the relevant (regional) professional field for the Associate degree programme (if possible in coordination with the organised business community), b. expertise with respect to the developments in the discipline, c. experience with providing and developing professional higher education (and intermediate vocational education 3 ) and with assessments at the relevant education level and expertise with respect to the teaching method(s) and the assessment procedure 4 used by the Associate degree programme, d. student-linked expertise, e. assessment expertise; 3. the panel is independent (the members and their family members have not had any ties with the university of applied sciences/university college (and the adult and vocational education institution) to which the Associate degree programme belongs for at least five years); 4. the panel is assisted by an independent, (external) secretary that has been trained and certified by NVAO. The panel is supervised by a process coordinator of NVAO, who can also be the secretary. The secretary and the process coordinator are independent of the institution concerned. Neither of them are members of the panel. All panel members and the secretary declare in advance of the site visit that they have no relationships or ties with the institution concerned as a private person, researcher / teacher, 2 Subject/discipline expertise is understood to mean discipline expertise, international expertise or expertise in the professional field. 3 In a case of an Associate degree programme that is offered in far-reaching collaboration with an adult and vocational education institution. 4 This refers to distance learning, work-based training, competence-oriented education or education for excellent students. page 15

15 professional practitioner or as an advisor that could positively or negatively influence the independent formation of an assessment of the quality of the Associate degree programme. They also declare that they have not had any such relations or ties with the institution for the last five years. The panel members also declare that the same is true with respect to the members of their family. In addition to actual independence, as expressed above in the nature of the relationship and the number of years, it is essential that a panel member or secretary also feels independent. It is possible that the independence of a panel member or secretary for more than five years is not a sufficient guarantee of an independent attitude; an intended panel member or secretary could still have feelings of overly strong ties with the institution or with the Associate degree programme, or could be too closely involved with an institution or the Associate degree programme through family members. In such a case, an intended panel member or secretary cannot be a part of the panel. Membership of a panel therefore requires a professional attitude. NVAO has drafted a code of conduct for panel members and secretaries for this purpose. This code of conduct contains elements related to this independence and confidentiality, and concerning the attitude of the panel members and the secretary during the assessment process. In advance of the assessment process, panel members and secretaries sign a declaration of independence and confidentiality. This declaration states that they have read the code of conduct. The chairperson and the secretary sign the assessment report following the completion of the assessment process after all panel members have consented to the report. The report also includes a declaration that the assessment took place with complete independence. If, during the assessment process, matters arise that could affect the independence of the assessment or that relate to complaints with respect to the panels and secretaries, then stakeholders such as panel members, employees or students can report this to NVAO. 2.2 The assessment process Admissibility If the Bachelor s programme is undergoing improvement (application of improvement period), it cannot submit an application for an Associate degree programme (Article 5a.13 of the Dutch Higher Education and Research Act [Wet op het hoger onderwijs en wetenschappelijk onderzoek]. The Bachelor s programme under which the Associate degree programme falls is accredited or the university of applied sciences/university college applies for an initial accreditation for the corresponding Bachelor s programme at the same time it applies for the initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme Information dossier The institution presents an information dossier on the Associate degree programme for the assessment by the panel. The information dossier should adhere to the standards of the framework for limited or extensive accreditation of a new Associate degree programme. The Associate degree programme is positioned with respect to already existing and comparable Associate degree programmes in the Netherlands. page 16

16 The information dossier on a publicly funded Associate degree programme refers to or contains a positive decision of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science with an underlying efficiency recommendation from the Higher Education Efficiency Committee (Commissie Doelmatigheid Hoger Onderwijs - CDHO). The information dossier is an independent document that can be read separately. In the framework for the initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme, a set-up was chosen that leaves room for the Associate degree programme to emphasise its individual character. The institution can make use of this opportunity in the information dossier. The information dossier is the pre-eminent tool for allowing teachers and peers to speak about the content of the Associate degree programme. It should be a document to which the programme representatives have committed themselves. When compiling the information dossier and when conducting the assessment, it is important that there is no overlap with the accreditation assessment of the Bachelor s programme or with the institutional audit. The size of the information dossier is a maximum of 10 pages, excluding appendices. If a collaboration exists (and a collaboration agreement) with an adult and vocational education institution, then the information dossier is more extensive Verbal explanation A hearing (at NVAO) or a site visit (at the institution) is a fixed component of the procedure. The panel decides whether a visit to the institution (site visit) is necessary to verify the basis of the information dossier or that a hearing will suffice. The work method used here is that the panel forms a provisional assessment in advance concerning the Associate degree programme and has formulated the questions for the hearing or the site visit. In principle, the panel includes the result of the accreditation assessment of the Bachelor s programme and the institutional audit in the formation of its assessment. During the hearing or the site visit, the panel speaks with representatives of the Associate degree programme management, the examination committee and the professional field. The panel decides with which representatives it wants to speak at its own discretion. The delegation from the university of applied sciences/university college shall, in principle, consist of no more than six people. If there is collaboration with an adult and vocational education institution, then the panel will also speak with the representatives of the adult and vocational education institution. At the end of the hearing or the site visit, the chairperson of the panel, if possible, will give the university of applied sciences/university college concise feedback on the general assessment and the underlying considerations Assessment procedure within the assessment panel The panel gives an assessment of all the standards included in the assessment framework. This assessment is substantiated by a consideration of the positive and critical elements from the findings of the panel. The assessment can be: unsatisfactory or satisfactory. Then the panel gives a substantiated final assessment of the quality of the Associate degree programme in the form of a recommendation to NVAO. The panel has three options here: a page 17

17 positive recommendation, a positive recommendation under conditions or a negative recommendation Advisory report The secretary of the panel drafts an advisory report of approximately 10 pages. The primary contents of the report are the panel s assessments of the standards. The panel provides a foundation for the assessments based on the information dossier of the Associate degree programme, the discussions with the representatives of the Associate degree programme and the underlying data from any extra requested material. Appealing and representative examples are included in the report. The panel reports on the manner in which it structured its assessment and the manner in which it came to choosing discussion partners and documents in the report. The advisory report is preceded by a summary assessment of the quality of the Associate degree programme that is no more than two pages long. Any possibilities for improvement actions are included in a separate paragraph in the report and in the summary. The report also contains a score table with the panel s assessments, information on the date / dates of the hearing / site visit, the names of the discussion participants, the basic information on the Bachelor s programme and the Associate degree programme (see paragraph 2.4.1), an overview of the studied material and the declarations of independence from the panel members and the secretary. NVAO sends the advisory report to the governing board of the university of applied sciences/university college after all panel members have consented to the content of the report. The university of applied sciences/university college is given the opportunity to respond to factual inaccuracies in the report within a period of two weeks. The chairperson of the panel subsequently finalises the report after all panel members have taken cognisance of and consented to the contents of the report. The report is signed by the chairperson and the secretary of the panel and presented to NVAO for decision-making. If the report elicits questions from NVAO or if the university of applied sciences/university college so wishes, NVAO can invite the university of applied sciences/university college and/or the assessment panel for further consultation. 2.3 NVAO decision-making NVAO can take one of three basic decisions: a positive decision on the initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme for a maximum period of six years 5, a positive decision under conditions or a negative decision. NVAO can link conditions to the positive decision. In this case, the Associate degree programme should apply for an additional assessment within a year in which NVAO sees whether the Associate degree programme has, in the meantime, met the set conditions. If no reassessment is applied for or if the conditions have apparently not been met, then the positive decision is rescinded. The assessment of set conditions is conducted on the instruction of NVAO by an assessment panel. 5 The duration of the approval of the Associate degree programme corresponds to the expiry date for accreditation of the Bachelor s programme. The Associate degree programme and the Bachelor s programme are assessed simultaneously within the accreditation procedure. page 18

18 The additional assessment follows the basic procedure for a regular limited or extensive initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme. The panel primarily focuses on the earlier discovered shortcomings within the Associate degree programme. 2.4 Required documentation During the assessment process, the management of the Associate degree programme provides a limited number of documents to the panel. In any case, this will include the information dossier with a limited number of appendices. It is possible that the panel will ask for additional documents from the Associate degree programme. The documents serve to substantiate and possibly verify Basic information on the Associate degree programme (The basic information is included in the information dossier, the advisory report and the decision of NVAO.) Administrative data on the Bachelor s programme (professional orientation) and the Associate degree programme: 1. name of Associate degree programme; 2. name of the Bachelor s programme (professional orientation); 3. expiry date of the accreditation of the Bachelor s programme; 4. Associate degree programmes already present within the programme; 5. number of credits (in ECs); 6. follow-up paths in the Bachelor s programme; 7. site(s); 8. mode(s) of study. Administrative data on the institution 9. name of institution; 10. status of institution (publicly funded or recognised private institution); 11. name of adult and vocational education institution(s) with which collaboration exists; 12. result of institutional audit. Quantitative data on the Associate degree programme and the Bachelor s programme 13. intended teacher-student ratio; 14. intended number of contract hours per phase of the study (a phase can, for instance, be indicated in regular years of study, the internship and the graduation period) Required appendices for the information dossier (The list with studied appendices is included in the advisory report.) 15. subject/discipline-specific reference framework and the learning outcomes of the Associate degree programme and the Bachelor s programme; 16. collaboration agreement with the adult and vocational education institution (if applicable); 17. documents that demonstrate the Associate degree programme s relevance to the job market in line with the requirements of standard intended learning outcomes; 18. diagram of programme overview of the Associate degree programme; page 19

19 19. description of contents (in outline) of the programme components of the first year of the Associate degree programme, with statement of learning outcomes, learning objectives, teaching method(s), manner of assessment, literature (required/recommended reading), teacher and credits (in ECs); 20. teaching and examination regulations; 21. overview of the staff to be deployed with name, position, scope of appointment, qualification and expertise; 22. if required, the decision on macro-efficiency; 23. overview of the contacts with the professional field; Documents for review during the site visit (The list with studied material is included in the advisory report.) Limited programme assessment 24. reports on the consultation in relevant committees / bodies; 25. handbooks and other study material. Extensive programme assessment 26. educational policy plan or similar document(s); 27. staff (policy) plan or similar document(s); 28. facilities (or services) plan or similar document(s); 29. policy plan with respect to the accessibility and feasibility for students with a functional limitation; 30. quality assurance plan; 31. reports on consultation in relevant committees / bodies; 32. handbooks and other study material. page 20

20 3 Assessment scales for the assessment For each assessment, a number of examples are given that can be useful for operationalising it. The assessment satisfactory under condition is not included because this always refers to made-to-measure actions to be carried out by a panel. 3.1 Unsatisfactory The Associate degree programme does not meet the accepted generic quality and, in several areas, shows serious shortcomings. This might be operationalised as follows: The job-market relevance of the Associate degree programme is not convincingly demonstrated. The learning outcomes do not fit within the (inter)national qualification frameworks with respect to level and/or orientation and have not been made concrete in subject/discipline-specific or programme-specific learning results. The curriculum, staff and services together do not create a facilitating learning environment. There is no programme-wide, transparent and coherent assessment policy. The intended learning outcomes are not realised. 3.2 Satisfactory The Associate degree programme meets the accepted generic quality and demonstrates an acceptable level throughout. This might be operationalised as follows: The learning outcomes fit within the (inter)national qualification frameworks with respect to level and/or orientation and have been made concrete in subject/disciplinespecific or programme-specific learning results. The curriculum, staff and services together create a facilitating learning environment that allows the learning outcomes to be realised. There is a programme-wide, transparent and coherent assessment policy; however, it is not yet consistently followed by everyone. The intended learning outcomes are being realised. page 21

21 4 Assessment rules 4.1 Associate degree programme assessment For Associate degree programmes comprising different modes of study (full-time, part-time and work-based), the assessment should show that for each mode of study the generic quality has been guaranteed on the basis of the standards from the relevant assessment framework in order to come to a positive final conclusion about the Associate degree programme. Associate degree programmes that are offered at several locations under one CROHO registration (CROHO: Central Register of Higher Education Study Programmes) are only eligible for approval if the assessment shows that each location meets the standards for generic quality named in the relevant framework. Limited initial accreditation of new Associate degree programme The final conclusion about an Associate degree programme is, in any case, unsatisfactory if standards 1, 3 or 4 are assessed as unsatisfactory. An unsatisfactory for standards 1, 3 or 4 cannot lead to the award of an initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme under conditions. Extensive initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme The final conclusion about an Associate degree programme is, in any case, unsatisfactory if standards 1, 15 or 17 are assessed as unsatisfactory. An unsatisfactory for standards 1,15 or 17 cannot lead to the award of an initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme under conditions. page 22

22 5 Appeal procedures Before finalising a decision on a limited or extensive initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme, NVAO gives the board of the institution the opportunity to present its view of the intended decision within a period of two weeks. These two weeks fall within the legal timeframe of three (six) months within which NVAO must come to a decision regarding the limited or the extensive initial accreditation of a new Associate degree programme. Following its finalisation, NVAO will send the decision immediately to the institution s governing board and, at the same time, will announce the decision publicly by placing it on the website of NVAO. There is also the possibility of an internal appeal or external appeal: An internal appeal is lodged by stakeholders submitting a notice of internal appeal to NVAO. The period allowed for submitting the internal appeal is six weeks. The procedure for handling internal appeals involves, in principle, a hearing. NVAO decides on the internal appeal within twelve weeks after receiving the notice of internal appeal. The decision on the internal appeal can be held over for no more than six weeks. Written notification will be produced for this. An external appeal can be lodged against a decision of NVAO on the internal appeal with the Administrative Jurisdiction Department of the Council of State. The period allowed for submitting the external appeal is six weeks. In principle, the Department will issue its ruling six weeks after the session. This period can be extended for no more than six weeks. Pending the internal appeal and/or external appeal procedure, the Chairperson of the Administrative Jurisdiction Department of the Council of State can be asked to make provisional arrangements if utmost urgency requires it in view of the interests involved. page 23

23 6 Appendix Dublin Descriptors, Short Cycle Report from a Joint Quality Initiative Informal Group, 18 October 2004 Qualifications that signify completion of the higher education short cycle (within the first cycle) are awarded to students who: 1. have demonstrated knowledge and understanding in a field of study that builds upon general secondary education and is typically at a level supported by advanced textbooks, such knowledge provides an underpinning for a field of work or vocation, personal development, and further studies to complete the first cycle; 2. can apply their knowledge and understanding in occupational contexts; 3. have the ability to identify and use data to formulate responses to well-defined concrete and abstract problems; 4. can communicate about their understanding, skills and activities, with peers, supervisors and clients; 5. have the learning skills to undertake further studies with some autonomy. page 24

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