Final report of the accrditation of the



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Final report of the accreditation of the

Ph.D. Program in Religion

University of Latvia
The accreditation of the program has been carried out during the dates of April 16.-17. 2004. The procedure of accreditation included working through the report presented by the faculty and meetings with the staff, professors, doctoral students and university leaders. We also had the opportunity to get acquainted with premises, library and the computer class of the faculty. The results of this evaluation will be presented in three parts: strengths of the program, recommendations for improving the program, and final decision.
Strengths of the program are based on general impression about the well-intended and promising program.
The program is internationally open including the opportunity for the students to study in foreign universities, invitations of foreign professors and making study trips to libraries of other universities.
The program has a large scope providing the opportunities for studies in different fields related to religion.
The program is open providing study opportunities for students from different religious communities, as well as from all segments of modern society.
Academic freedom is stressed by leading the program and providing a large choice of subjects and methods for the students.
Recommendations for improving the program reflect our understanding of the areas of possible further development.
The goals and objectives of the program should be presented in a more clear and detailed way. The applicants must know what kind of academic and professional competencies are expected.
For the potential applicants it would be necessary to know the exact enrollment requirements and criteria. It should be clearly stated on what basis the selection between different candidates will be made.
Within the same program separated and clearly defined curricula for the students with and without theological education must be provided. The interdisciplinary dimension of the program should be explicitly accepted by the academic staff.
Our impression is that the program is more oriented towards the possibilities and capacities of the faculty rather than to the needs of the society. The study of the needs and interests of possible employers can make the program socially more effective.
One way for better serving the Latvian society is to include the research and teaching of ethics into the program.
To make the program more attractive and understandable for international students and tutors, the keywords used in Bologna process and Lissabon convention (quality assurance, employability, research based teaching etc) would be helpful.
More systematic and clearer presentation of the guidelines for accepting the studies completed at other universities would make the international dimension of the program even stronger.
The responsibilities of student and academic advisor should be carried out on mutually beneficial level.
Our recommendation is to review the necessity of the exams in foreign languages. In our opinion knowing languages is an elementary and natural prerequisite for enrolling in the doctoral program.
Doctoral studies are commonly understood as research based. There is still room for development in the advancement of the research policy in international research projects, and in systematic involvement of the doctoral students into the research projects of the faculty and university.
The outcome of the doctoral studies is the defense of a dissertation. Considering the principles of academic freedom, independence of the universities and confidence in the highest competence of the faculty, we recommend that the doctoral degree should be awarded by the Postgraduate Studies Committee of the university.

Final decision



We recommend the full accreditation of the Ph.D. Program in Religion for 6 (six) years.
Members of the evaluation committee

Prof. Dr. Dr. Sven-Ake Selander

Prof. Dr. habil. Ojars Sparitis

Prof. Dr. Dr. Tonu Lehtsaar (chairman)

Riga, 17.04.2004

Individual evaluation report of the

Ph.D. Program in Religion

It was a great pleasure and learning experience to get acquainted with the program and with people involved. I really do appreciate the efforts of the faculty of theology of the University of Latvia for having such kind of program unique for all Latvia.


Having very limited resources the faculty has been able to introduce an internationally open program having already two graduates which is a strong argument for the vitality of the program.
As with all new programs there should be some changes made. According to my opinion the most important of them are:


  1. The Aims and objectives should be stated on a more clear and concrete way. In current program they are too general.

  2. The program has capacity to be developed as a joint degree program with some foreign universities. Considering the number of foreign contacts the faculty has, the opportunity of offering joint degrees can be discussed.

  3. The quality assurance system of the program should be developed.

The main aspects of the program: aims, content, organization, teaching, learning and research activities could estimated with 3 on a 4 point scale.


I am glad that University of Latvia has such a vital and promising program. Therefore my conviction is that the program should be accredited for six years.
Sincerely,
Tõnu Lehtsaar,

Vice rector of the

University of Tartu, Estonia

21.04.04

Sven-Åke Selander

Professor emeritus

Practical Theology

Center for theology and religious science

Allhelgona kyrkogata 8

SE-223 62 LUND

E-mail: sven-ake.selander@teol.lu.se
040422

Questionnaire

For evaluation Commission Experts

(Supplement to the individual report)

I The assessment of study programmes
I Aims and objectives

Satisfactory (2)



  1. Possibility to understand, to reach and to control the aims and objectives defined by the study programme.

There are aims described in the programme. The goals and objectives are – however – written in a more descriptive than formal way. This means that the students and other people interested in the programme might have difficulties to understand what it means practically for the planning of the studies or how aimes and objectives can be used as means for control. It is even difficult for applicants to know what the prerequisites are for being accepted as a doctoral student in theology. (2)
II The content and organizaton of the studies

Highly saticfactory (3)



  1. Complying with the professional and education standards, legislation of the Republic of Latvia and with the requirements and standards of the European Union.

The programme seems to be on equal level with programmes in theology in other European countries. This can be illustrated by the fact that some of the doctoral students carry through their thesis at other European universities. Giving courses in languages within the programme does not however seem to be in line with other European programmes. If knowledge of langugages is a prerequisite for doctoral studies, more time could be used writing the thesis within the programme (3).

    1. Consistency of the study programme and its parts with the demands to create the common European education space, including the comparison with at least two study programmes forom EU countries.

See 2

    1. Qualification and professionality of the academic staff members.

Most of the academic staff is high educated (normally professors). The problem with the staff might be their age. Some important subjects are not represented by an expert at the faculty, e.g. New Testament and Ethics (3)

III Assessment of teaching and learning

Satisfactory (2)


    1. Modern methodology of teaching, a clear statement of results to be expected, problem solving, use of computers, internet, audiovisual and multi media equipment.

The doctoral students seem to be much left to themselves, taking their own initiatives. This strategy – how good it might be in itself – can lead to stress, leff effective studies and even drop-outs . (2)

    1. Counselling and guidance for students, academic supervision and consultations of the teaching staff, increasing of the students’ motivation to study.

It is stated in the programme that the doctoral students have to take their own responsibility for getting in contact with their tutor. It is important to be aware of that the relation between student and tutor is a mutual responsibility. This has to be improved. (2)

    1. Methods to assess the knowledge, skills and attitudes, their objectivity use to improve the studies.

In the programme it is written that the students shall be trained in reflection and critical thinking. Much of the course work is related to reading textbooks and writing reports. The progression and planning of the studies is however not clearly worked out in the programme which can cause problems for students, tutors and poential doctoral students. (2)
IV The management and support of the studies

Highly satisfactory (3)



    1. Respect of the principles of democracy, clear defintion of the relations among representatives of the administration, academic staff and students.

See part III

    1. Cooperation with other higher education establishments, research institutions, international organizations; exchange of staff and students with other higher education establishments.

Institutional relations are well used and many doctoral students are studying at other universities. There is a cooperation with other institutions within the university of Latvia, e.g. with humanities and sociology. Members of the academic staff have been studying and lecturing at different universities both in east and west. (4)
10 Methodological, informational and techincal resources and facilities of the study programme.

Compared with an earlier visit the situation seemed to have improved. (2)


V Research (creative) activities of the staff and the students

Satisfactory (2)



  1. Involvement of the academic and general staff in the research (creative) activities, up to date character and connection with the content of the study programme.

In the interviews there were some difficulties to find out which research projects are going on conducted by the academic staff. The doctoral students have chosen their themes themselves. None seemed to be involved in a research project together with other researchers at the faculty. (2)

VI Quality assessment and mechanisms to ensure it



  1. Annual self-assessment of the study programme, evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses, changes, plans and possibilities for the development, continuously action of the system of self-evaluation and quality improvement.

No information.

  1. Successful work of graduates according to their qualification.

Examples of thesis demonstrated good quality related to the time available within the programme. (3)

  1. Opportunities to continue studies and financial guarantees in the case of closure of the programamme, its re-organization and other changes.

Latvijas Izglītības ministrijas

Augstākās izglītības kvalitātes novērtēšanas centra

direktoram god. Dr. J. Dzelmes kungam


Atskaite

par LU Teoloģijas doktora studiju programmas izvērtējumu


Kopā ar ekspertiem S.A. Selander (Zviedrija) un T. Lehtsaar (Igaunija) 2004. gada 16. un 17. aprīlī vērtējot Latvijas Universitātes Teoloģijas fakultātes prezentēto Teoloģijas doktora studiju programmu, izdarīju šādus secinājumus:

1.Studiju programmas mērķi izklāstīti visumā aptuveni, nekonkretizējot mācību iespējas, kā dēļ doktorantūras pretendentiem var neveidoties skaidrs priekšstats par Teoloģijas doktora specializāciju kā arī ceļiem tās sasniegšanai. Bet, tā kā šī preambulas daļa ir tikai verbāls vēstījums, tā ar redakcionālas dabas uzlabojumiem ir novedama pie skaidrākas struktūras. Vērtējums – apmierinoši.

2.Studiju saturs ir izklāstīts bagātīgā buķetē, un, ja to, kas programmā ietverts, izdotos arī realizēt, tad par realitāti kļuvusī vīzija būtu visai ideāls humanitārā akadēmiskā grāda iegūšanas modelis. Iespējams, ka studiju satura izklāstā varētu būt ieviešams starptautiski rekomendētais ierēdnieciskais “žargons”, kādu ir pieraduši līdzīgos dokumentos lasīt citu zemju studenti, un kuri vēlētos studijas turpināt Latvijas Universitātē. Studiju organizācijas principi ir izklāstīti pārliecinoši un to metodoloģija ir akadēmiski nevainojama. Salīdzinājumā ar citu zemju programmām, jūtama ir Latvijas augstskolas Teoloģiskās izglītības specializācija, taču ir saredzami būtiski segmenti, kas pārklājas ar citu Eiropas augstskolu (Igaunijas, Zviedrijas, Vācijas) studiju programmām. Vērtējums – labi.

3.Teoloģijas fakultātes personāla kvalifikācija ir pietiekami daudzpusīga un augsta. Arī akadēmiskās specializācijas ziņā tā uzrāda padziļinātu studiju iespējas atsevišķos priekšmetos, kas izriet no mācībspēku individuālās kvalifikācijas. Par augstu profesionālismu nav šaubu nedz vecākās paaudzes pedagogu darba vērtējumā, nedz arī jau šobrīd mācību procesā iesaistīto Teoloģijas fakultātē sagatavoto jaunākā gājuma pasniedzēju iemaņās. Vērtējums – labi vai pat teicami.

4.Moderno mācīšanas metožu izmantojuma ziņā fakultātes iespējas nodrošina datoru klase un brīva pieeja informācijas nesējiem. Saprotams, ka šīs teoloģiskās izglītības apguvē kā pamatmetodes saglabājas tradicionālās humanitārās avotu un interpretācijas materiāla studijas. No pedagogu puses varētu vēlēties dziļāku ieinteresētību doktorantu “liktenī”, vairāk personisku kontaktu ceļā panākamas iejūtības un intereses par mācībspēkiem uzticēto doktorantu studiju gaitām un grūtībām. Doktorantu darba novērtējumā pastāv augsti profesionālisma un zinātniskuma kritēriji. Šī bloka kopvērtējums izsakāms ar indeksu – labi.

5. Studiju nodrošinājuma vērtējumā grūti pēc programmas spriest par reālo segumu dokumentā solītajam, taču gūtais iespaids liecina par plašu starptautisku sadarbību un dinamiskām iespējām internacionālai radniecīgas akadēmiskās specializācijas mācībspēku kā arī doktorantu apmaiņai. Perspektīvajai doktorantu un mācībspēku apmaiņai paredzēto mācību iestāžu spektrs pārsteidz ar plašo ģeogrāfiju un piedāvātajām iespējām. Tās var patiesi ieinteresēt studijām šajā programmā. Vērtējums – teicami.

6.Akadēmiskā personāla un studentu zin.-pētn. darba rezultāts ir pārliecinoši konstatējams kopīgi sarakstītajās mācību grāmatās, mācību programmās un biedriskajās savstarpējās attiecībās, kas valda mācībspēku un doktorantu starpā. Šajā teoloģiskās izglītības un teoloģijas kā zinātnes attīstības fāzē zinātniski pētnieciskā darba virzieni saistās ar pamatnostādņu, fundamentālo jautājumu noskaidrošanu, analīzi un elementāri nepieciešamāko teorētisko segmentu izziņu, lai ar doktorantūras programmas tuvākajā laikā prognozējamo produktu aizpildītu bakalauru un maģistru apmācībai nepieciešamo pētījumu deficītu. Vērtējums – labi.

7.Studiju programmas vājās puses neizdevās konstatēt. Pagaidām, kad fakultāte ir vēl tik jauna, tās veidošanās un strukturēšanās ir process, kas turpinās. Notiek pašpilnveidošanās, kas subjektīvi varētu notikt arī ātrāk, taču arī pašreizējie tempi stagnācijas briesmu draudus nerada. Absolventu augstā un universālā kvalifikācija rada konkurētspējīgu un darba tirgū pieprasītu produktu ar plašām analītiskā sprieduma, vispārinājumu un sistematizācijas spējām. Tā kā vairākiem Teoloģijas fakultātes maģistriem un doktorantiem ir jau izdevies veiksmīgi integrēties publiskajā telpā par menedžeriem, analītiķiem, priesteriem, tad nerodas šaubas par piedāvātās izglītības kvalitāti un elastību. Vērtējums – labi.

8. Studiju programmas likvidācijas vai reorganizācijas gadījumus Teoloģijas doktora programma neparedz. Nav arī ko pašnāvnieciskas tieksmes ieprogrammēt mācību procesā. Vērtējums – optimistisks.
Galvenais secinājums – Teoloģijas doktora programma ir akreditējama uz maksimālo iespējamo laika periodu un tajā veicami daži strukturāli un redakcionāli uzlabojumi.
Cieņā – Prof. Dr. habil. art. Ojārs Spārītis

Rīgā, 29.04.2004.







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