FH Council (Austria)
The external quality assurance system is marked by a close connection between initial accreditation, evaluation and re-accreditation.
- Initial and re-accreditation always refer to programmes; accreditation is granted for an approval period of a maximum of five years.
- Each re-accreditation requires a new application and the submission of an evaluation report, i.e. each FH Council decision on re-accreditation is based on an evaluation as well as the acceptance and assessment of the submitted evaluation report by the FH Council.
- One year prior to the expiration of the approval period an evaluation procedure has to be carried out (each re-accreditation is preceded by an evaluation).
Important questions that need to be answered positively are for example: Does the submitted concept fulfil its educational mandate in a reliable and transparent way? Has the (field-specific) implementation of the educational mandate been demonstrated in a logical, conclusive and valid way?
The programmes are designed on behalf of the course providing bodies by expert teams with the required academic and professional qualifications. The application is submitted to the FH Council according to the Fachhochschule Studies Act and the Accreditation Guidelines. The applications are examined by the members and the office of the FH Council. If there is no expertise in the FH Council written expert opinions are asked for. The decision on initial accreditation is carried out by the members of the FH Council themselves. The accreditation procedure ends with a positive or negative decision, including a likely request by the FH Council to take certain measures to improve the quality of the programme.
- If the legal prerequisites have been met and the required quality measures taken, an FH programme will be approved for a limited time not exceeding a period of five years.
Each re-accreditation requires a new application and the submission of an evaluation report. The evaluation procedures are carried out according to the evaluation regulations of the FH Council. The evaluation in the Austrian FH sector consists of the following elements:
- Internal evaluation by the institution to be evaluated (self-evaluation);
- External evaluation by a review team;
- Comment of the course-providing body on the review team’s evaluation report;
- Acceptance and appraisal of the evaluation reports by the FH Council;
- Follow-up procedure;
- Publication of the evaluation results (summary report).
The applications for re-accreditation shall clearly outline how the FH institution has responded to the results of the previous evaluations. Each FH Council decision on the re-accreditation is based on a previously conducted evaluation by an external review-team.
The accreditation decision is made independently by the FH Council. Each decision of the FH Council on the accreditation or non-accreditation of FH programmes requires the approval of the Federal Minister for Education, Science and Culture. Such an approval can be denied if the decision of the FH Council does not correspond with the goals of the national educational policy. However, the ministry may not instruct the members of the FH Council to approve a specific FH programme.
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