Quality assurance (QA) is an important element of vocational education and training (VET) and adult learning policy. Quality, its assurance and continuous improvement are a constant endeavour of all actors of the training process. Quality assurance in VET is promoted also by a number of European initiatives. The transparency and comparability of qualifications have come to the fore with a view to establish a European Education Area and a common European labour market. The European Parliament and the Council adopted the Recommendation on the establishment of a European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training in 2009. The requirements laid down in the Recommendation had an impact on the reform of Hungarian adult learning introduced in 2013 and 2020. In today’s blog post we summarise the changes that occurred over the past 7 years in the quality assurance of Hungarian adult learning in the light of the EQAVET Recommendation.
Obviously, the quality of education and training has to be assured in a reliable manner. On a legislative level QA mechanisms are stipulated in the Act on Vocational Education and Training, the framework acts on adult learning and the implementing decrees supplementing the provisions of those acts. These also regulate the development of the QA system of adult learning (ALE) providers as well as the provision and external evaluation of training. QA in adult learning has several aspects. These include input (availability of the ALE provider’s personnel and resources as defined in the relevant pieces of legislation, the existence of training programmes, etc.), process (the organisation and documentation of training, teaching-training methods, the evaluation and upskilling of trainers, complaints handling, etc.), output (successful exams, dropout, satisfaction, etc.) and outcome (application of what has been learned, making the best use of the qualification, etc.).
The Act on Adult Learning adopted in 2013 defines 4 categories of training to which the legislation applies: training leading to a vocational qualification recognised by the state, “other vocational training” provided on the basis of programme requirements, foreign language courses, and other subsidised training. In accordance with the VET 4.0 strategy, the regulation that is to change from 2020 onwards differentiates between training subject to notification and training subject to licensing. The stricter requirements of licensing apply to training that leads to a qualification recognised by the State and EU- or State-funded training.
QA in adult learning is, on the one hand, manifested in the licensing of the operation of providers. However, training providers are allowed to organise training programmes in the above categories or to provide services linked to adult learning only if they are listed in the register of ALE institutions, the conditions for obtaining the license and those of operation are met, and they have set up their own QA system in line with the legislative QA requirements. These are the conditions of authorisation. Furthermore, condition of licensing is a review and site visit conducted by the expert committee.
Moreover, a compulsory element in licensing the operation of ALE providers is the implementation of a QA system which guarantees continuous professional self-development through the everyday activity that is built on it, the pertaining self-assessment and publicity. Institutions are free to develop their own QA system in accordance with the legislative requirements. However, as expected by the EQAVET Framework, the QA system of ALE providers also covers the overall institutional regulation of activities related to operation, and based on the PDCA logic, – planning, implementation, evaluation, feedback – also the coordination of change management efforts. The activities and processes of the institutional QA system that need to be regulated are compatible with the indicative descriptors defined in the EQAVET Recommendation. The QA system includes a document of the provider which sums up its quality policy containing the pertaining institutional strategy and establishing the respective responsibilities. The QA system follows an approach that centres on self-assessment, and envisages the continuous improvement of training, tools and human resources where improvements are based on publicly available data and feedback.
With the help of experts the adult learning authority checks at least every four years whether the regulations for ALE activities are observed. In addition, the law also requires ALE institutions to have their activity evaluated by an external party at least once in every four years. This was formerly done by organisations selected through a call for applications. Under the new regulation external evaluation is carried out by the Centre for Innovative Training Support (IKK) with the help of experts, at the request of the ALE provider. During the external evaluation the IKK examines if the ALE provider performs its adult learning activity in accordance with its quality management system. The external evaluation includes an assessment of the adult learning activity and trainers’ work according to general pedagogical criteria, an assessment by general pedagogical and leadership criteria, and the achievement of the ALE provider’s goals.
The new regulation explicitly stipulates the use of the EQAVET Framework during the external evaluation. The methodology of external evaluation and its tools are developed by the IKK in a consistent manner pursuant to the EQAVET Recommendation, and are published on its website. The document published and the external evaluations conducted on the basis of it will help ensure that EQAVET indicative descriptors and indicators are maintained not only as formal requirements of a QA system but are also observed during everyday operation.
In its VET 4.0 strategy the Government puts great emphasis on the creation of a demand-driven adult learning system in which the output is regulated and which promotes short-cycle training and the recognition of prior learning. The changes foreseen by the legislative amendments due in 2020 serve to enhance the quality, availability and flexibility of adult learning in Hungary.