Pursuant to Act No. 111/1998 Coll., on Higher Education Institutions and Amendments and Supplements to Other Acts (The Higher Education Act), specifically Section 77b, a higher education institution is obliged to establish and manage the system assuring the quality of educational, creative, and related activities and the internal assessment of educational, creative, and related activities of a higher education institution. This document responds to this obligation and brings this quality assurance and internal quality assessment system closer via a summary of the (1.) the aims and principles of the quality assurance and internal quality assessment system, (2.) a description of the institutionalization of the quality assurance and internal quality assessment system, (3.) a description of the organization and staffing of the quality assurance and internal quality assessment system, (4.) content of the securing and internal quality assessment, and (5) key documents, regulations, and other references required by the internal quality assurance system.
1. Aims and principles of the quality assurance and internal assessment system at CULS Prague
The aims of the quality assurance and internal quality assessment system at CULS Prague (hereinafter “CULS”) are consistent with and support the fulfilment of the CULS mission. This mission means the development of activities seeking to combine the best of the traditions of the academic environment with modern challenges and responses to them. The CULS mission is to prepare high-quality graduates for the labour market and who will contribute to the development of civic life, to the implementation of diverse creative activities with support in scientific and research activities, and to connecting universities with the non-academic world with help of the transfer of innovations, knowledge and technology. The mission of CULS is also carried out in an international environment and aims to contribute to the benefit of the regions where CULS is active, and to the benefit of the whole of the Czech Republic and the world. The mission of CULS, which requires that CULS ensures its quality, means, on the one hand, the innovative development of all aspects of the university (educational, scientific-research, international, and interconnected into practice) in traditionally strong disciplines that have long been associated with CULS. On the other hand, CULS also understands as its mission the introduction of new scientific-research, educational and international practices in diversified fields of contemporary scientific and social interest that correspond to the long-standing CULS profile. Currently, for example, there are issues of sustainability in its environmental, economic and social context, bio-economy or biotechnology issues and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Quality assurance and internal quality assessment system aims to significantly support such actions of the university that will reflect established and recognized (in the European and worldwide area) standards of quality of tertiary education, creative and related activities. Therefore, the application of the quality assurance and internal quality assessment system which at CULS has long been based on document Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area, is intended to contribute to the fulfilment of the mission, vision and objectives of the university's activities as stated in its official documents (internal regulations according to the law – Long-term/Strategic Plan for Educational, Scientific, Research, Innovation and Creative Activities of the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague and in its annual Implementation Plans, in Annual Reports on Activities and in Annual Economic Reports). The aim of quality assurance and internal quality assessment system is to provide a major boost to CULS performance that reflects and fulfils national, European and worldwide recognized standards of quality of higher and university education, creative and related activities. Quality assurance and internal assessment takes into account the tangible and intangible environment of faculties, the higher education institute (Institute of Education and Communication - hereinafter "IEC") and as part of them, also their compact organizational units, the specifics of the fields of education, programs and scientific disciplines developed at the university. It also takes into account the established, functioning and proven environment of university-wide workplaces. The assessment is conducted in a transparent, reasonable way; it is based on factual, professional and ethical criteria and is subject to continuous feedback of academic staff, students, graduates or other relevant actors depending on the context of the evaluation. The quality assurance and internal quality assessment system is based on valid, reliable and unambiguous data, which may be qualitative or quantitative in nature. The evaluation is always based on a critical assessment of the ascertained facts that are observed in their various contexts. Since relevant actors are involved in quality assurance and evaluation, both from the university environment and, if so desired, from outside CULS, this system is transdisciplinary. Faculties, IEC or other parts of the university and their workplaces continuously subject the quality assurance and assessment system to reflection, which leads to its improvement.
2. Formal institutionalization of the quality assurance and internal assessment system
From the institutional perspective, key documents for the quality assurance and internal quality assessment system are “Rules of the system of ensuring the quality of educational, creative and associated activities and the internal evaluation of the quality of educational, creative and associated activities of the CULS Prague”. These rules were prepared on the basis of requirements arising from the Higher Education Ac and accreditation standards and also use long-term practices used at CULS and existing experience in ensuring and evaluating the quality of all activities implemented at this University. The quality assurance and assessment system is applied to (a) educational activities, i.e. /1/ bachelor and master's education, /2/ doctoral education, /3/ lifelong education, (b) creative activities, (c) related activities, to which belongs /1/ management and administration of the university and its components, /2/ cooperation with practice and fulfilment of social responsibilities, /3/ international activity, /4/ care and services for students, /5/ the quality of academic and non-academic staff and care for them, /6/ habilitation procedures and procedures for the appointment of a professor, /6/ spatial, instrumental, material, information and administrative support, /7/ maintenance and development of the academic environment, /8/ financial securing, /9/ activities of school farms.
Educational activities in study programmes and in lifelong education
Quality assurance and internal quality assessment of educational activities in study programmes is institutionally regulated from outside by the Higher Education Act and the accreditation standards related to this Act specified in the Government Decree No. 274/2016 Coll., on Standards for Accreditation in Higher Education, and finally, determination of the education area by the Government Decree No. 275/2016 Coll., Fields of Education in Higher Education. From the viewpoint of the internal environment of CULS, the frameworks of securing and the internal evaluation of quality are formed by the internal regulations of CULS. This specifically concerns the internal regulations of CULS relating to the set of rules for accreditation of study programmes outside of institutional accreditation, and rules for institutional accreditation itself (its preparation and subsequently the course of accreditations in case of obtaining institutional accreditation for certain areas of education). Other rules that define ensuring and internal quality assessment at CULS are “Study and Examination Rules for Study in Bachelor and Master’s Degree Study Programmes” (internal regulation) and “Study and Examination Rules for Study in PhD Study Programmes” (internal regulation). In addition to the aforementioned, there also exist other internal regulations (regulations not resulting directly from the text of the Higher Education Act), which also provide the ensuring and assessment of the quality of activities in study programmes, primarily in relation to the support of talented study applicants in the field of awarding and processing of qualification (bachelor and diploma) theses, regulations on the functioning of the Councils for Cooperation with Practice, as well as rules for handing out awards for outstanding students or for excellent qualification works. For internal quality assessment, the key document is the Set of Requirements and Performance Indicators connected to the innovated (pursuant to the amendment to the Higher Education Act and the Government Decree 274/2016 Coll., on Standards for Accreditation in Higher Education) CULS Fulfilment of Requirements Indicators and Performance Indicators System.
An important tool for quality assurance and internal quality assessment system at CULS in the field of education are functioning information systems, primarily the University Information System (provides access to a variety of information to the academic community, university staff and the general public; a number of system services are available only after authentication), which provide the necessary data to monitor the set quality indicators and criteria (from the admission proceedings to final exam results). Other tools include surveys and questionnaires that produce results of the evaluation of individual subjects that are conducted either by the students themselves in connection with the study of the relevant subject (survey), or with a periodicity of 2-3 years for individual subjects by IEC, where, via detailed questionnaires, both students and educators respond. In order to ensure and internally assess the quality of education also help the actions of the Councils for Cooperation with Practice at faculties, as well as a survey amongst CULS graduates. Foreign experts are also invited to English-language programs to assess quality directly during teaching. For several years, the best educators at each faculty have been announced annually, and IEC also provides sitting in on classes in selected subjects in order to improve their teaching.
In order to ensure and internally assess the quality of education, so-called internal accreditation of programmes (and originally also fields) and subjects is used in the long term. Internal accreditation assesses individual faculty/IEC programmes that provide their teaching, but also other faculties (possibly also IEC). The faculties/IEC thus have the opportunity to communicate their views on the submitted applications for accreditation of other parts of the university, and they express themselves regarding the composition of the subjects and their content. Within the framework of internal accreditation of study programs, there is an evaluation and adjustment of the content, scope and organization of programmes in accordance with the current requirements of the job market and recommendations of the Councils for Cooperation with Practice. As part of lifelong education, in relation to the context of this education (its focus, duration, possibility to utilize Section 60, paragraph 2, the Higher Education Act), procedures and tool such as for education in study programmes are applied.
relation to the context of this education (its focus, duration, possibility to utilize Section 60, paragraph 2, the Higher Education Act), procedures and tool such as for education in study programmes are applied.
Creative activities represent in particular scientific, research, development, innovation and artistic activities. This means that the concept of creative activities at CULS is made up of basic and applied research and development of creative activities, the transfer of knowledge from science and research into practice and consulting activities. In the CULS creative activities are also evident art activities associated with certain study programmes. Creative activities understood in this way are evaluated through periodic (usually once a year) messages focused on different areas of creative activities (available after user authentication via access name and password on CULS intranet sites). The aim of these internal evaluations is to ensure the further development of creative activities at CULS. Here, benchmarking is actively utilized between parts of the university (e.g. the number of RIV points per one employee of the relevant part of CULS) and the university as a whole compared to other universities in the Czech Republic and abroad. Indicators showing the results in creative activities on the faculty/IEC and the departments’ level that are continuously monitored are discussed in various CULS committees (the Rector’s Advisory Board, Dean's College, Scientific Board), and measures are being taken if potential problems are signalled (or for further improvement of creative work). The most important measures include motivational programmes, whose rules are drawn in internal regulations of CULS (e.g. rules for motivating CULS employees to publish quality works /including citation responses/ in the leading journals of the given field and for submitting and resolving prestigious projects). Another tool that has been implemented to support the quality of creative activities are the rules of the CULS University-wide Internal Grant Agency, and the rules of internal grant agencies at faculties, which also include penalties for poorly carried out research. All of these rules set out institutional frameworks for programmes of creative activities that stimulate the development of CULS disciplines and develop the excellence of its creative activities. These rules and measures also lead students and academics to actively engage in creative activities. The evaluation of creative activities is based primarily on quantified data, uses bibliographic analysis and other analytical tools used to investigate the effectiveness and impact of creative activities. The evaluation of the creative activities of the university takes into account the different publishing and citation practices of the various scientific disciplines and is based on comparisons with major foreign or domestic universities or research institutions. International comparisons are primarily intended to help assess whether the creative activities in the field are excellent.
As mentioned above, the primary related activities that strengthen the quality assurance and internal quality assessment system at CULS, include the management and administration of the university, faculties and IEC, collaboration with practice and fulfilment of CULS social responsibilities, international relations and activities, care for students, care for academic and non-academic staff and ensuring the adequate level of academic and non-academic staff, habilitation procedures and procedures for appointment of professors, spatial, material, information and administrative support of activities, maintenance and development of the academic environment, use of funds, the services of dormitories and the Mensa, facilities for sporting activities at CULS and activities of the school farm and school forestry farm.
Ensuring and internal evaluation of the quality of the related activities is in the job description of the responsible person and the department that he/she manages. Quality assessment includes the preparation of the relevant evaluation reports (generally once a year) available after user authentication through their name and access password on the CULS intranet and they are discussed in various CULS committees (generally by the Rector’s Advisory Board , for evaluating international relationships and school enterprises also by the Scientific Board).
3. Organization and staffing of the quality assurance and internal assessment system
Due to the form of CULS, which is made up of 6 faculties, one university institute (IEC) and other supporting workplaces (e.g. school farms), the form of the organizational securing of quality assurance and internal quality assessment systems consists of two types of structures: (1) the CULS structures for the issuing of management guidelines and obtaining information related to the quality assurance and internal quality assessment (including, in particular, the Rector, Deans and Director of the University Institute) and the (2) structures for determining requirements for educational, creative and related activities, and for discussing and approving matters relating to the quality assurance and internal assessment of the quality of activities (includesthe CULS Council for Internal Evaluation, the Scientific Board of the university and its components, the CULS Management Board and Academic Senate). The guaranteeing and umbrella body that operates primarily in the quality securing and internal assessment at CULS is the Council for Internal Evaluation. Its position connecting both structures is determined by its composition, in which are involved academics and students, who nominate parts of both structures for quality assurance and internal assessments. The activities of the Council for Internal Evaluation are governed by the Rules of Procedure of the Council for Internal Evaluation, as an internal regulation of CULS. In addition to the Council for Internal Evaluation, in terms of quality assurance and internal quality assessment, all of the key documents (in particular the annual evaluation in the pedagogical field, in the field of creative activities and in the field of international affairs) are discussed by the CULS Scientific Board. The CULS Academic Senate discusses documents that concern the institutional quality assurance and internal quality assessment at CULS, and which are also discussed by the CULS Council for Internal Evaluation. Before being discussed in the Council for Internal Evaluation, in the CULS Academic Senate or in the CULS Scientific Board, the Rector’s Advisory Board makes a statement regarding all of the documents. The Rector’s Advisory Board consists of the Rector, Vice-Rectors, Bursar, Chancellor, Faculty Deans/IEC Director, Chairman of the CULS Academic Senate, Director of the Marketing Department, and they regularly meet at least once a month. Records from these meetings are available after user authentication via their access name and password in the CULS Intranet section. On the level of CULS, activities in the area of securing and internally evaluating quality are coordinated by the relevant Vice-Rector (Vice-Rector for the Quality of Educational and Creative Activities), who, as part of the network of key employees involved in coordination of activities relating to securing quality, collaborates with employees entrusted with the coordination of activities relating to securing the quality of educational, creative and related activities, and internal evaluation of the quality of educational, creative and related activities on the level of the parts of CULS (faculties/IEC), by which academic staff are proposed by the Dean/Director of IEC who holds Vice Dean Posts. These employees are responsible for the coordination of activities related to the quality assurance of educational, creative and related activities and internal assessment of the quality of educational, creative and related activities at the faculty/IEC level – they mainly cooperate and communicate with the relevant Deans, Vice-Deans and guarantors of study programmes at individual faculties/IEC. They supervise the functionality of feedback mechanisms and evaluations, corrective and preventive measures and measures taken to improve the quality assurance and internal quality assessment at the faculty/IEC level. At the CULS level, they cooperate with the Vice-Rector for the Quality of Educational and Creative Activities. These academic employees are:
Vice Rector for Quality of Academic Activities
Vice Dean for Science and Research
Vice Dean for Quality of Academic Activities
Vice Dean for Education
Vice Dean for Education
Vice Dean for Education
Vice Dean for Education
Deputy Director for International Relations
An important entity from the viewpoint of quality assurance and internal quality assessment of educational activities is the relevant guarantor of the study programme as he/she prepares the documents for the evaluation of bachelor, master's and doctoral study programs in the form of a report assessing the study programme that he/she guarantees. This guarantor prepares such a report in cooperation with the relevant Vice-Dean or Deputy Director of the University Institute. Support for quality assurance and internal quality assessment is provided by the relevant and materially competent University's Offices (in particular the Quality Assurance Office) in co-operation with relevant support workplaces at faculties or IEC.
4. The content of internal quality assessment at CULS
is given by the Strategic Plan for Educational, Scientific, Research, Innovation and Creative Activities of the Czech University off Life Sciences Prague for 2016-2020, including its annual Implementation Plans (in the original wording before the amendment to the Higher Education Act came into force, this was the Long-term plan for Educational, Scientific, Research, Innovation and Creative Activities of the Czech University off Life Sciences Prague for 2016-2020), and its connection to the Annual Report on Activities and the Annual Economic Reports.
The preparation of these three documents (Strategic Plan, Annual Report on Activities and the Annual Economic Report) requires the development of support materials (usually existing in the form of annual evaluation reports of predefined areas covering educational, creative and related activities). Specifically, annual evaluation reports (at the faculty and IEC level and at the CULS level) are prepared, which, in addition to a description and supporting data, also contain analyses of the monitored issues and recommendations for further development of the monitored issues in the field of educational, creative or related activities. These reports are discussed in the relevant committees described in the section on organizational securing of the quality assurance and internal quality assessment system.
In the field of education, these are in particular the following evaluation reports (all of the reports are available after user authentication with their access name and password on the CULS intranet):
- on addressing study applicants (e.g. open houses, cooperation with middle schools),
- on the conditions, preparation, course and results of the admission procedure for bachelor, masterf’s and doctoral study programmes,
- on the number of students according to type, form, year of study and faculty/IEC, including data on permeability between years and student failures,
- on the evaluation of teaching on the subject level,
- on the analysis of study programmes,
- on the evaluation of doctoral study programmes and on the development strategy of doctoral study programmes,
- on the evaluation of so-called inter-faculty teaching,
- on the evaluation of state exams,
- on the collection of fees related to the study,
- on the employment statistics of graduates,
- on the results of the survey among graduates,
- on the activities of the Career Centre for students,
- on the job fair,
- on the activities of the Alumni Club,
- on the activities of the Councils for Cooperation with Practice.
In creative activities, these are in particular the following evaluation reports (all of the reports are available after user authentication with their access name and password on the CULS intranet):
- on the evaluation of the fulfilment of the science and research strategy at faculties and at IEC,
- on results in science and research,
- on the activities of the CULS Scientia Agriculturae Bohemica journal,
- on the results and the functioning of grant competitions at CULS and the results of applications for external grants and projects,
- on conferences organized at CULS,
- on the activities of the Department for Strategic Planning, the Centre for Projects Implementation and the Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre,
- on the activities of the business incubator,
- on the activities of the Licensing Council and the Commercialization Centre.
In related activities, these are in particular the following evaluation reports (all of the reports are available after user authentication with their access name and password on the CULS intranet):
- on the evaluation of activities in international relations during the year (including teaching in a foreign language),
- on short-term intensive courses for CULS students abroad and for foreign students at CULS (summer schools and other short-term courses),
- on cooperation with external partners,
- on the activities of Study and Information Center,
- on the activities of the CULS Department of Information and Communication Technologies,
- on the activities of the Centre for Audiovisual Support,
- on the internal audit at CULS,
- on the evaluation of the construction, reconstruction, modernization and repairs plan,
- on the accommodation of students,
- on the activities of school enterprises,
- on the presentation of CULS at exhibitions.
Educational, creative and related activities are also covered by evaluation reports on the implementation of the Centralized Development Projects of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and on the fulfilment of the Institutional Plan at CULS, in the areas on which these projects and plans are focused.
In addition to internal evaluation mechanisms, CULS also utilizes external quality assessment. The last such quality assessment took place in the 2011/2012 academic year as part of the activities of CULS in the Euroleague For Life Sciences (an association of 7 universities in Europe active in the field of life sciences).
Other external CULS quality assessment methods include the results of international university rankings. These include rankings such as Times Higher Education – World University Rankings (in the order of the so-called The Times Higher Education BRICS & Emerging Economies University Ranking 2017, CULS is ranked 175th and 7th out of 12 evaluated universities in the Czech Republic), QS World University Rankings (in the order of the so-called QS World University Ranking EECA Emerging Europe and Central Asia Ranking, CULS is ranked 90th and 8th out of 18 evaluated universities in the Czech Republic), Best Global Universities Ranking US News & World Report – only evaluates creative activities (ranked 1051st in the world 8th out of 10 evaluated universities in the Czech Republic), similarly to how the Academic Ranking of World Universities only ranks creative activities (specifically Shanghai Ranking's Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2017 – Agricultural Sciences, where CULS is ranked 201–300 in agricultural sciences).
- (1) Key documents, regulations and other links from the viewpoint of the quality assurance and internal quality assessment system:
- Rules of Procedure of the Council for Internal Evaluation
- Rules of Procedure of the Scientific Board
- Rules of the system of ensuring the quality of educational, creative and associated activities and the internal evaluation of the quality of educational, creative and associated activities of the CULS Prague
- Statute of the CULS Prague
- Study and Exam Rules - BSc & MSc studies
- Study and Exam Rules - PhD studies