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I. Bilbokaitė-Skiauterienė, R. Bilbokaitė

Šiauliai University (LITHUANIA)
Increasing competition in higher education points out the necessity for the change of the quality of the education system. Meeting the need, the restructuring of the network of higher education institutions in Lithuania has started in 2017; it aims at improvement of study quality and perfection of study programmes. Assurance of exclusive quality as an essential provision of higher education is oriented towards the striving to deliver only high quality programmes. A university aims to ensure improvement of study programmes and implementation of learning outcomes with regard to the conclusions and recommendations of the external evaluation provided by the Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education.

The problem of the conducted research is based on the provision stating that in scientific papers the quality of higher education is dealt with in various aspects; however, there is lack of comprehensive scientific research in the area of improvement of study programmes.

The aim of this research is to reveal the key factors for improvement of university bachelor cycle study programmes grounding on the assessment results of external evaluation (content of conclusions provided by the external experts). This supposes the problem questions: What areas to be corrected/ improved are emphasised by external experts in the case of a particular university institution in terms of curriculum design, learning outcomes and their assessment, procedure of implementation, academic staff, required learning facilities? How could they be corrected and improved at an institutional level?

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 (Tidikis, 2003, p. 387), 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 (Bilbokaitė, Bilbokaitė-Skiauterienė, 2016).

The research results are focused on the areas to be improved concerning the aims and anticipated learning outcomes, curriculum design, academic staff, learning facilities, study process and its assessment as well as programme management of Bachelor study programmes. The necessity for deeper correlation between learning outcomes and labour market demands, development of the content of study subjects becomes prominent while focusing on design of the system for arrangement of study practice, clarification of assessment criteria for graduation theses. The essential aspects of improvement of staff activities are oriented towards development of the motivation system, enhancement of the implemented assurance of staff competences and scientific performance. Recommendations concerning improvement of management could be implemented through assurance of (inter-) institutional collaboration (at an international / national level), while sharing good practice and maintaining feedback, through participation in international activities of the network of higher education institutions.