About HAC

The Hungarian Accreditation Committee was established with the country's first higher education law in 1993. It is, according to the 2011 National Higher Education Act, a national body of experts facilitating the control, assurance and evaluation of the scientific quality of education, scientific research and artistic activity at higher education institutions. The HAC conducts ex ante and ex post evaluation of both programs and institutions. Ex ante evaluation of programs comprises giving opinion on the national-level educational and outcome requirements (which are framework requirements for all degree programs in Hungary and appear in a ministerial decree), and new programs to be launched at institutions. Ex post evaluation is conducted in five-year cycles. There are separate procedures for institutional and program evaluation. The latter is conducted for entire disciplines, with all programs taught in Hungary in that discipline undergoing a single procedure with external evaluators from a common pool.

In 2005, bachelor and master programs replaced the traditional, single stream college or university programs. The majority of new bachelor programs began in 2006 and master programs in 2009. All of them have undergone the evaluation process.

The new National Higher Education Act, passed by Parliament on 23 December 2011, lists 71 higher education institutions operating in Hungary to date. In order to receive state recognition and to issue degrees, all higher education institutions, including private ones, must undergo an evaluation. Denominational higher education institutions receive state financing similar to state institutions and are accredited but the HAC's mandate pertains only to secular programs. Foreign higher education institutions are also required to be evaluated in order to receive license to operate from the Education Authority of the Ministry of National Resources. A precondition is that they are legally recognized as HEI in their home country.

The former distinction between universities, providing research-based and -oriented education, and colleges, offering applied training, has diminished with the introduction of the bachelor/master system. An ECTS compatible credit system was introduced at all institutions by law in September 2003. The Diploma Supplement is issued to graduated students in both Hungarian and English.

Based on the new National Higher Education Act, from 1 March 2012 on the HAC has 18 full members. The Ministry for National Resources delegates nine members, three are delegated by the Hungarian Rectors’ Conference, two by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, two by the Churches that have their own higher education institutions, one by the Hungarian Academy of Arts, and one by the National Union of Doctoral Students. The president is nominated from among the 18 members by the minister in agreement with the president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The president and members receive their letters of appointment from the Prime Minister for a six-year term, which is once renewable. The law stipulates a Financial Supervisory Board, and since its inception the HAC has had an International Advisory Board.

The Secretariat has a staff of 15; they include the Secretary General, his deputy, and a Financial Director, six program officers, five administrative staff and an IT technician. The program officers are assigned expert committees whose work they prepare and guide from inception to completion of evaluation reports and proposals for HAC decisions. In addition they are responsible for several institutions, prepare and participate in site-visits and assist in writing the evaluation report.

In compliance with the European Standards and Guidelines, the HAC was evaluated by an external team of experts in 2008/09 and consequently has renewed its membership in ENQA, the European Association of Quality Assurance for another five-year term (see Internal Quality).

 

(February 2012)

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