The Hungarian Accreditation Committee is a national-level, independent body of experts tasked with the external evaluation of the quality of educational and related research activities and the internal quality assurance (QA) systems of higher education institutions in Hungary. It operates within the scope of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG). The Board is comprised of 20 higher education experts, students and external stakeholders and is the highest decision-making body. It determines the by-laws, rules of procedure, organisational framework and evaluation and accreditation criteria and procedures, and passes resolutions on accreditation decisions. Expert committees and a Secretariat contribute to its operations.
In addition, the HAC has two statutory bodies, a Financial Supervisory Board and a Board of Appeals. The latter body of three independent members handles appeals against the HAC’s decisions and, in line with internal regulations, may deal with complaints against procedures. An International Advisory Board provides guidance and recommendations for the HAC’s work.
The HAC scope of activities extends to
- initial (ex ante) accreditation of new institutions
- initial evaluation of education and learning outcome framework requirements of Vocational Education and Training (VET) programmes
- initial evaluation of education and learning outcome framework requirements of Bachelor programmes;
- initial evaluation of education and learning outcome framework requirements of Master programmes;
- initial accreditation of VET programmes;
- initial accreditation of Bachelor programmes;
- initial accreditation of Master programmes;
- initial accreditation of new doctoral schools at universities;
- accreditation (ex post) of institutions in five-year cycles;
- accreditation of doctoral schools in maximum five-year cycles.
The HAC may evaluate running Bachelor and Master programmes if requested by an institution or the ministry. Additionally, it evaluates applications for awarding university professor positions.
The National Higher Education Act of 2011, lists some 70 higher education institutions operating in Hungary. In order to receive state recognition and to issue degrees, all higher education institutions, including private ones, must be accredited. Denominational higher education institutions receive state financing similar to state institutions and are accredited but the HAC’s mandate pertains only to secular programmes. Foreign higher education institutions are also required to be evaluated in order to receive license to operate from the Educational Authority of the Ministry of National Resources. A precondition is that they are legally recognized as HEI in their home country.