How the Triangle of Bologna Quality Assurance, a National Legal Framework and Internal Quality Enhancement Supports Institutional Improvement

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Abstract

The Republic of Macedonia (RM) has been a part of the Bologna process since 2003. The Ministry of Education, law and policy makers and higher education institutions have actively engaged with its main concepts. In parallel with this, since the adoption of the law on higher education in 2008 and the reform of the Accreditation and Evaluation Board, there have been numerous changes and amendments culminating in the fast-tracked adoption of a new law at the beginning of 2015. Some of its solutions created a huge debate among the academic community, other intellectuals and students themselves, resulting in the postponement of that law and a kind of legal vacuum. In such turbulent circumstances, individual higher education institutions had to consider how and to what extent to adopt and develop relevant standards and guidelines, comply with the legal framework and promote good practice. The aim of this paper is to present how these three aspects, Bologna standards and guidelines for Quality Assurance (QA), a national legal framework and an institutional approach are being reflected, merged and implemented at a relatively young higher education institution. It questions the impact of these three elements on each other and how one institution’s drive for improvement is affected. This is done through a qualitative analysis of the three-fold perspectives. The conclusions and recommendations are expected to be of use to policy makers in the country and region as they evaluate how international trends and good practice fit into the socio-economic and political conditions of RM and similar countries. At the same time, it can demonstrate how far institutional quality assurance and progress can be implemented and recognized in the country itself and by some international stakeholders. It can also prove that the South East European University (SEEU) is a national leader in this field as RM has no functioning QA evaluation system, while SEEU has managed to create a well structured and operating one, based on international and institutional experiences.

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