IN PURSUIT OF EXCEPTIONAL QUALITY OF STUDIES: THE ASPECT OF PERFECTION OF MASTER’S STUDY PROGRAMMES

R. Bilbokaitė, I. Bilbokaitė-Skiauterienė

Siauliai University (LITHUANIA)
Aiming to ensure exceptional quality of studies, Lithuanian institutions of higher education focus on delivery of high quality study programmes in compliance with the Procedure of Assessment of Study Fields and Temporal Accreditation Issued by the Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education (2018), since it provides the basis for the said institutions to terminate admission to study programmes which have been accredited for 3 years two consequent times. Over 200 study programmes did not meet the new requirements set for in 2018; as a result, students were not enrolled to these study programmes. However, the new system is being questioned by the academic community after it was found out that the provisions of the Law on Higher Education and Research related to assessment of study fields and temporal accreditation contradicted the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania. Another important criterion of existence of study programmes is the recruitment of students. Nevertheless, in the latter year admission to 64 study programmes was terminated due to the lack of entrants.

Such situation supposes the relevance and problem of the research, while there are insufficient research studies dedicated to the area of perfection of study programmes, the aim is to reveal the aspects of perfection of Master’s study programmes grounding on the assessment results of external evaluation.

Methodology:
The article presents qualitative analysis of the results of self-evaluation reports of University study programmes over the period of 2014—2016, employing the method of content analysis which enabled objective and systematic investigation of the features of the text, generalisation of information and formation of appropriate conclusions. In the research, the results of content analysis are generalised by the method of incomplete generalising induction [1], i.e. when there is a shift from the fact concerning specific programmes to recommendations to all study programmes, which is also useful to newly designed study programmes and improvement of their management process in the future [2].

Results:
The data analysis reveals that the curriculum design, management, human resource management are the areas to be improved at the institutional level. The data of the content analysis of the recommendations to Master’s study programmes reveals that the section dedicated to the programme’s set aims and anticipated outcomes lacks clarity, comprehensiveness, correspondence to the demands of social stakeholders, development of interdisciplinarity, compliance of the awarded qualification with the demands of the labour market. In the area of curriculum design, the guidelines for the modules, content, also application of methods of teaching, opportunities to select study subjects, standards of graduation theses should be improved. The area dealing with the academic staff mostly highlights the lack of motivation, mobility of teaching staff; importance of competence development is pointed out. The section dedicated to learning resources emphasises recommendations to use the opportunities provided by information technologies at a broader scale. The section on the study process and its assessment highlights importance of feedback, increase of internationalisation of study subjects, mobility of students. The section on programme management underlines importance of marketing, relationships with social stakeholders and development of inter-institutional collaboration.