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Establishment and functions
NEAA was founded with the pursuance of art. 11, para. 1 of the Higher Education Act (HEA), passed by the National Assembly on December 27, 1995. With a Decree of the Council of Ministers No. 189 of August 1, 1996 of adopting a Statute of NEAA and defining the number of employees is constituted the subordinate legislative background of the agency. The first Accreditation Council started its work by the end of 1996. Due to lack of experience in the area of higher education evaluation and accreditation in Bulgaria, the basic approach, adopted by the AC in the process of establishing the Agency and elaborating the required documentation, was studying the international experience and best practices, correlating them to the specifics, conditions and traditions of the Bulgarian higher education with the intention to find the best system suitable for the Bulgarian Education Area. It is extremely important to be stated that the foundation of NEAA and its documentation owe much to the participation of NEAA in a PHARE-BG project 95.06-05.01.001 whose first phase “Feasibility study of Bulgarian higher schools’ accreditation” had been implemented with the consultancy of the Quality Support Centre, Open University-London-QSC), long-term advisers William Callaway (November 1996 – May 1997) and Dr. Hue Glenville, while its second phase “National Evaluation and Accreditation Agency” lasted one year and was implemented by a team of the British Council led by Dr. D. Billing. Pilot accreditation procedures were carried out at some higher education institutions. Estimated from the perspective of the past decade, the role of this project for the development of NEAA was great. Due to it NEAA was able in a very short term to adjust the evaluation and accreditation according to the European concepts for accomplishment of this process.
With the enforcement of the amendments of the Higher Education Act on June 4, 2004 some changes occurred in the evaluation and accreditation procedures of higher education institutions, imposing on NEAA the functions of a specialized governmental body for carrying out evaluation, accreditation and quality control in the activities of higher education institutions and carrying out post-accreditation monitoring and control – a new task in the activity of NEAA.
The Higher Education Act regulates:
- a new approach of implementation of the procedures for programme accreditation of professional fields and for evaluation of projects for opening new professional fields;
- special approach of implementation of the procedures for evaluation of projects and programme accreditation of the majors from the regulated professions
- new expanded credentials of the Standing Committees by areas of higher education (SCAHE);
- establishment of new structures of NEAA for carrying out post-accreditation monitoring and control.