The Law on Higher Education from 2005 introduced the principles of the Bologna Declaration and the Lisbon Strategy into the higher education system of the Republic of Serbia and has set the ground for the inclusion of Serbia in the European Higher Education Area [EHEA]. In accordance with the aforementioned Law in June 2006 the Commission for Accreditation and Quality Assurance [CAQA] was formed as the body of the National Council for Higher Education. The financial, administrative and technical affairs for both bodies were performed by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Development. CAQA has become a full ENQA (European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education) member in April 2013. CAQA has been registered on EQAR (European Quality Assurance Register) since November 2014.
CAQA has done self-evaluation report in 2012 and 2017 which was the basis for its external evaluation performed by ENQA. In February 2018 ENQA did not renew CAQA’s full membership status and designated its position as “Member under review” for a period of two years.
At almost the same time, instead of CAQA, the new National Entity for Accreditation and Quality Assurance in Higher Education (hereinafter referred to as NEAQA) was established by the Decision of the Government of the Republic of Serbia (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 9/2018 of 2 February, 2018) as a national independent body in institutional, financial, administrative and professional matters in accordance with the Law on Higher Education of 2017. NEAQA was enlisted in the state register on 9 March, 2018 and its Steering Committee was constituted on 3 May, 2018.
On the basis of a public competition the NEAQA’s Director was elected on 19 July, 2018, as well as the members of the Commission for Accreditation and Quality Assurance [CAQA], which was constituted on 30 August, 2018 as an expert body of NEAQA.
As CAQA’s universal legal successor, NEAQA kept in ENQA the same status “member under review”, until February 2020. In the coming period NEAQA’s main goal is to comply with ESG according to ENQA’s remarks, particularly through the strengthening of the independence from the Ministry and the role of the external experts including students’ and labor market representatives, involving foreign experts in the evaluation processes, performing site-visits, etc.
The NEAQA performs activities of accreditation and quality assurance of higher education institutions and their units, evaluation of study programs and quality assurance in higher education in Serbia.
NEAQA has changed the methodology and procedure of accreditation and quality assurance in higher education established by the former CAQA in order to meet the all ESG requirements. To this end particular emphasis is placed on the strengthening of the independence of NEAQA, which is the key pillar of the accreditation and quality assurance process.
The aim of NEAQA is to improve higher education in Serbia by ensuring its compliance with internationally recognized standards for accreditation and quality assurance, as well as to raise the training level of reviewers and to ensure their independence, and especially their professional and ethical behavior in the process of accreditation and quality assurance. Accordingly, NEAQA should take on the role of the driving force for the development of the quality assurance system in Serbia’s higher education.
NEAQA has put into the forefront activities to ensure the implementation of a new methodology of the accreditation and quality assurance process in Serbia in accordance with the quality principles in the EHEA, the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the EHEA (ESG), and the regulations of the Republic of Serbia. Its main goal is to achieve full membership in ENQA and registration on EQAR, to attain more complete internationalization and take adequate place in the European higher education area.