With its decision dated 5 November 2015, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cyprus appointed the members of the Council of the Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education on the basis of the “Quality Assurance and Accreditation of Higher Education and the Establishment and Operation of an Agency on Related Matters Law of 2015.”
The Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education (CYQAA) is responsible for ensuring the quality of higher education in Cyprus and for supporting the continuous improvement and upgrading of higher education institutions (HEIs) and their programs of study through the procedures provided by the relevant legislation.
The agency has, according to the law, extended competencies amongst which are the following:
- Institutional, departmental and programmatic evaluation and accreditation of higher education.
- Quality assurance in higher education on the basis of the European Standards.
- The evaluation and accreditation of cross-border forms of education offered by local institutions in member states or third countries.
- Assessment of the conditions for the provision of cross-border education from foreign institutions in Cyprus.
- Assessment of inter-institutional cooperation of higher education institutions.
- The provision of information regarding quality assurance in higher education.
CYQAA and HEIs in Cyprus share the vision of the Bologna Process for the creation of the European Higher Education Area and have recognized that by engaging in quality assurance and accreditation processes, in particular through external evaluation processes, they will be able to showcase the quality of the education provided, but also to increase transparency, thus contributing to confidence-building and better recognition of the academic qualifications of their programs of study.
It has become clear that accreditation works for the benefit of students, HEIs, employers, and the society in general as it ensures that the graduates will have the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities, that is the learning outcomes reflected in the criteria of external evaluation.
The agency’s vision aspires to contribute, along with its stakeholders, towards the efforts for the establishment of Cyprus as a district center of high quality higher education, in accordance to the standards and guidelines provided by the European Network for Quality Assurance (ENQA).
Its vision prioritizes the cultivation of quality culture in higher education, which leads to self-regulatory policies based on shared values among all higher education institutions, common beliefs, high expectations and commitments toward quality.
The Cyprus Agency aims to actively participate in the think tanks of the European Network of Quality Assurance (ENQA) and to join the European Network of Quality Assurance Register (EQAR) as well as the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME).
The CYQAA strives for continuous promoting of values endorsing authority and trust:
- Independence and integrity:The CYQAA acts impartially and according to the Cyprus Law and the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG), and implements the ESG using common evaluation criteria and equitable procedures across Cyprus Higher Education.
- Transparency:The CYQAA justifies and publishes its policies, guidelines, evaluation criteria, expert reports and decisions.
- Collaboration and Trust:The CYQAA has established a series of regular meetings with the HEI representatives to listen to their questions and queries and provide guidance for compliance with the ESG.
- Professionalism:The CYQAA aims to continuous building and development of competence and skills of its staff and promoting professional procedures and paths of communication.
CYQAA is committed to ensuring that the Agency itself and Higher Education Institutions (HEI) in Cyprus fully comply with the European Standards and Guidelines and to promoting competitive, high quality higher education in the country.
The long-term goals and achievements refer to promoting higher education in Cyprus as high quality competitive higher education of European orientation, able to attract high quality students from three continents.
The mid-term goals and achievements refer to promoting a culture of systematic, qualitative and trustful self-assessment, which can lead to self-improvement of the HEI. They also include a thematic analysis of the evaluation reports and the publication of findings and trends.
The short-term goals include:
- Full compliance with ESG according to review and ENQA recommendations
- The institutions’, programs’ and departments’ re-evaluation
- Evaluation of the Medical Schools
- Negotiation with the stakeholders of the agency’s law amendments and regulations
- Review of the forms and procedures of external evaluation and reporting
- Thematic analysis- publication of the deriving findings and trends
- Promotion of values that safeguard quality assurance and self-improvement
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- The CYQAA Council shall consider whether a complaint is substantiated. A complaint will only be considered if it is credible, substantiated, and supported by appropriate evidence, references, examples etc. The complaints may only relate to an accredited institution’s/department’s/programme’s compliance with the Agency’s external evaluation criteria and/or the ESG and/or the WFME standards, or the integrity of the external evaluation process on the basis of which CYQAA provided accreditation to the said institution/department/programme. Concerns regarding national legislation, European Union law, or any other applicable rules shall be addressed with the competent courts or authorities.
- If the complaint is not substantiated the CYQAA will take no action on the complaint and inform the complainant accordingly.
- If the complaint is substantiated CYQAA will inform the higher education institution of the complaint and will ask the institution to provide clarifications or information related to it.
- If the complaint is substantiated but relates to an isolated case and does not substantially affect the institution’s/department’s/programme’s compliance with the abovementioned standards, the CYQAA Council shall issue a formal warning to the institution. The warning does not affect the accreditation status of the institution/department/programme. A formal warning statement is published on the entry of the institution/department/programme on the Agency’s website.
- In the case the complaint is substantiated and leads to major concerns that the accredited institution/department/programme no longer fulfils the criteria upon which accreditation was granted, the CYQAA Council shall examine, through the audit procedure, whether the Accreditation criteria continue to be met according to article 17(3)(g) of the legislation.
- In the case the audit procedure further substantiates the complaint and leads to major concerns that the accredited institution/department/programme no longer fulfils the criteria upon which accreditation was granted, the CYQAA Council may decide to:
- revoke the Accreditation decision, or
- initiate an external evaluation process of the institution/department/programme.