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Guidelines for Implementation of Certified Evaluation and Accreditation of Universities and Colleges

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General Principles of Institutional Evaluation and Accreditation (Universities)

About these Principles

The purpose of the institutional evaluation and accreditation (universities) conducted by the Japan Institution for Higher Education Evaluation (hereinafter referred to as “JIHEE”), a Public Interest Incorporated Foundation, is to support the autonomous enhancement and improvement of the quality of institutions in Japan to contribute to their development. In implementing evaluation and accreditation, since establishment, we have been engaged in activities that help reform and improvement based on the spirit of peer review and the institution’s founding principles in close communication with each institution, taking into consideration its individuality and distinctive quality.

Evaluation and accreditation, which have been required to be implemented every seven years or less since 2004, will enter into its third cycle in 2018. The ministerial ordinance prescribing the relevant details in applying the standard as set forth in Article 110, Paragraph 2 of the School Education Act (hereinafter referred to as the “Ordinance”) was promulgated on March 31, 2016 by MEXT. Based on the foregoing, JIHEE made a substantial review of the current evaluation system, and transformed it into one which focuses on internal quality assurance, an autonomous reform cycle of institutions, based on the diploma policies, curriculum policies, and admission policies, and determined to implement evaluation and accreditation based on a new evaluation system from the year 2018 onwards, when the Ordinance will become effective.

These principles contain information regarding the fundamental policies and implementation of institutional evaluations and accreditations (universities). JIHEE evaluations are implemented on the basis of these principles and the “Evaluation Standards (Universities)” (hereinafter referred to as the “Evaluation Standards”) stipulated in these principles. In addition to these principles and standards, JIHEE also publishes the “Handbook for Evaluation and Accreditation (Universities)” for institutions preparing to create a “Self-Inspection and Evaluation Report” for submission to JIHEE, and the “Handbook for Evaluators (Universities)” which is to be used by the JIHEE Evaluators.

JIHEE endeavors to develop the most appropriate evaluation system by conducting reviews of the evaluation methods and Evaluation Standards, etc., based upon the opinions received from the parties related to the institutions undergoing evaluation, Evaluators are involved in evaluation-related activities, and other related parties.


1. Evaluation Objectives

The evaluations conducted by JIHEE at the behest of the institutions of higher education are implemented in accordance with the following objectives for the purpose of contributing to the further development of the universities of Japan.

(1) To evaluate the overall situation of educational and research activities of institutions of higher education, on the basis of the Evaluation Standards developed by JIHEE taking into consideration the analysis of the results of Self-Inspection and Evaluation; and to verify the Self-Inspection and Evaluation and to support the institutions’ efforts to strengthen internal quality assurance on their own initiative.

(2) To assist and promote the autonomous development of educational and research activities on each institution’s individuality and distinctive qualities through evaluation that considers the institution’s individuality and distinctive qualities.

(3) To provide support that enables institutions of higher education to attain the backing of the general public through appropriate disclosure of the overall state of their educational and research activities.


2. Object of Evaluation

Those subjects to evaluation are institutions in any academic year after the first intake of students following establishment of the institution have graduated.


3. Fundamental Principles of Evaluation

JIHEE conducts evaluations on the basis of the following fundamental policies.

(1) Evaluation focusing on internal quality assurance
The evaluation will be conducted through continuous Self-Inspection and Evaluation based on evidence pertinent to each institution, positioning the independent and autonomous internal quality assurance of each institution about its education and research as well as overall operation as material Points Evaluated.

(2) Evaluation on the basis of Evaluation Standards provided for by JIHEE
Based on the Self-Inspection and Evaluation conducted by each institution, JIHEE will, in line with its Evaluation Standards, conduct an evaluation of the educational and research activities of institutions, examine the Self-Inspection and Evaluation, and judge whether or not the Evaluation Standards are being satisfied.

(3) Evaluation focused on the status of educational activities
This evaluation will focus on the overall state of institutions, mainly on their educational activities, giving consideration to the degree of social expectations and the institutions’ obligation of accountability regarding their educational activities.

(4) Evaluation based on consideration of the individuality and distinctive qualities of each institution
Evaluation Standards will be restricted to those which are fundamental and common to institutions. Other than these standards, with regard to areas in which institutions place an emphasis upon their  individuality and distinctive qualities, unique standards and Points Evaluated established by the institution are used for conducting Self-Inspection and Evaluation.

(5) Evaluation that contributes to the improvement and enhancement of each university
JIHEE considers the evaluation of institutions of higher education to be indispensable to the improvement of the educational and research activities of universities and vital to managerial reform, and places great importance on the coordination and linking of the process and results of evaluation and independent reform and improvement.

(6) Evaluation based on peer reviews
In order to appropriately evaluate the complex educational and research activities of institutions of higher education, the evaluations conducted by JIHEE are based mainly on the peer reviews of the faculty and staff of each institution. Furthermore, knowledgeable individuals unaffiliated with the institution undergoing evaluation who have insight into the educational and research activities of institutions are appointed as members of the Committee for Evaluation (Universities) (herein referred to as the “Committee for Evaluation”) to assure objectivity and social appropriateness in the system of evaluation.

(7) Qualitative assessment-oriented evaluation
From the perspective of the educational and research quality improvement orientation of  evaluations of these institutions,  JIHEE conducts evaluations that place importance not only on quantitative indices, but also on qualitative assessment of the content of educational and research activities of each institution.

(8) Communication-oriented evaluation
This evaluation places great importance on the communication between evaluated institutions and JIHEE. JIHEE endeavors to avoid making and publishing one-sided judgments. Specifically,  JIHEE holds a Seminar for Liaison Officers in Universities requesting evaluation and twice provides opportunities to make an appeal on the evaluation.

(9) Development of a highly transparent and reliable evaluation system
JIHEE conducts highly transparent and open evaluations through the establishment of a system in which institutions can appeal and through broad disclosure of the process, methods and results of evaluations. Furthermore, JIHEE seeks to constantly improve the evaluation system through the establishment of a structure that incorporates opinions regarding the evaluations conducted by JIHEE collected from institutions of higher education and society at large through questionnaires participated in by each institution, or opinions gathered from external parties and those with experience in such evaluations; and by incorporating opinions of the institutions and society at large regarding the JIHEE evaluation system.


4. System of Implementation of Evaluation

In conducting evaluations, Evaluation Teams are established consisting of Evaluators to conduct actual evaluations under the Committee for Evaluation consisting of the parties related in national, public and private universities, and experts in the fields of society, economy, and culture.  A wide range of the faculty and staff of institutions are registered as Evaluators. Evaluators who are able to properly evaluate an institution are assigned to each Evaluation Team taking into consideration the diversity of the educational and research fields and localities of the institution undergoing evaluation. In addition, although teams generally consist of 5 members, the size of the team can vary depending on the scale and departmental structure of an institution.

In order for Evaluation to be more effective, it is necessary to implement Evaluations that are highly reliable based on professional judgment from an objective perspective. Accordingly, Evaluators will be provided with sufficient training on objectives, contents, and methods of Evaluation to carry out Evaluation activities in a fair, proper, and smooth manner, and with a shared understanding on evaluations. In providing such training, seminars will be held mainly on the Evaluation Standards and implementation methods, as well as sessions for listening to the experiences of the former Evaluators and group training for each Evaluation Team if necessary, thereby building a consensus among Evaluators and improving the quality of Evaluation.

The Committee for Evaluation consists18 members of less, who are the parties related to national, public and private institutions of higher education; high schools; academic societies; and economic organizations. The Committee members are ultimately decided at the Board of Directors (BOD) meeting.

However, the following Evaluators and members of the Committee for Evaluation who are directly related to the institutions to be evaluated are not permitted to participate in the evaluations of those institutions..

  1. Graduates of the institution to be evaluated
  2. Current Evaluators and members of the Committee for Evaluation(or those planning to be) employed full-time or who are concurrently employed , or who were formerly employed within the past 5 years by the institution to be evaluated
  3. Evaluators and members of the Committee for Evaluation who are currently (or planning to be) executives, or who were within the past 5 years former executives of the institution to be evaluated
  4. Evaluators and members of the Committee for Evaluation currently participating (or planning to do so) , or who participated in the past five years in an organization examining important matters related to the education, research activities or management of the institution to be evaluated
  5. Parties related to neighboring competitor institutions to be evaluated
  6. Any other individual deemed inappropriate by JIHEE


5. Evaluation Standards

(1) Details of Evaluation Standards

The Evaluation Standards consist of 6 standards, including “Standard 1. Mission and Objectives”; “Standard 2. Student”; “Standard 3. Educational Curriculum”; “Standard 4. Faculty and Staff”; “Standard 5. Management, Administration and Finance”; and “Standard 6. Internal Quality Assurance”; all of which are designed to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the educational and research activities of institutions of higher education. These Evaluation Standards are composed of basic and common standards focusing on education, providing standards. For each Point Evaluated Perspectives for evaluation are set that must be met by each institution. Each Point Evaluated is established with Perspectives for Evaluation that are necessary for Evaluation of such “Point Evaluated”.
In particular, “Standard 6. Internal Quality Assurance” will be evaluated as material Points Evaluated which are related to the evaluation of other five standards.

(2) Unique Standards

In addition to these six Standards, each institution is required to establish its own unique standards, Points Evaluated and Perspectives for Evaluation with regard to the areas in which institutions place an emphasis upon their individuality and distinctive qualities.

(3) Remarks

In addition to its own unique standards, the institution can describe as remarks its characteristic educational and research activities or enterprises that it wishes to emphasize  (up to three items).


6. Implementation Methods, etc., of Evaluation

(1) The Evaluation Process

The evaluation process can be generally described as follows.

1. Holding of seminars for describing the process of Self-Inspection and Evaluation to institutions undergoing evaluation and accreditation
JIHEE hosts Seminars for Liaison Officers from each of the institutions that applies for JIHEE evaluation, in order to explain the evaluation system, the method of evaluation and how to prepare the Self-Inspection and Evaluation Reports.

2. Self-Inspection and Evaluation when undergoing evaluation and accreditation
Institutions intending to undergo evaluation and accreditation will implement Self-Inspection and Evaluation and prepare the Self-Inspection and Evaluation Reports based on the “Handbook for Evaluation and Accreditation (Universities)” provided separately by JIHEE.
When preparing the Self-Inspection and Evaluation Reports, based on the School Education Act and the Standards for Establishment of Universities, the institution will initially analyze the educational and research activities of each department and graduate school as necessary in line with the Perspectives for Evaluation for each of the Points Evaluated and judge for itself whether or not the Points Evaluated are “satisfied” or “unsatisfied” based on the evaluation results. With regard to this “self-judgment,” it is necessary to briefly describe the “reasons for self-judgment” (explanation of facts and self-evaluation) along with the relevant evidence, and a plan for the future detailing measures for reform and improvement. In addition to the Perspectives for Evaluation set up by JIHEE, the institution may establish its own Perspectives for Evaluation for each of the Points Evaluated and include their description when the situation and objectives of the institution make it necessary. Next, the institution is required to briefly describe the “self-evaluation” for each Standard taking into account the results of overall judgment of the Points Evaluated. However, “self-judgment” for each Standard is not required

3. JIHEE Evaluations

(i)  In accordance with the judgment standards provided for separately, JIHEE makes the following evaluations and judgments, based on the “Self-Inspection and Evaluation Reports” submitted by the evaluated institutions.

・  Evaluation is made from the viewpoint of whether each Point Evaluated is  “satisfied”, “almost satisfied” or “unsatisfied” based on the Perspectives for Evaluation.

・   Evaluation is made from the viewpoint of whether each standard is “satisfied”, “almost satisfied” or “unsatisfied” based on the evaluations of the Points Evaluated.

・   Evaluation is made from the comprehensive viewpoint of whether the Evaluation Standards are satisfied or not and the institution is judged as “suitable for accreditation,” or “not suitable for accreditation.”
If the institution satisfies all of the six standards, it is judged to be “suitable for accreditation.”
If there is more than one unsatisfied standard out of the six standards, the institution in question is judged as “not suitable for accreditation”.

・   For institutions which have been judged by the Committee for Evaluation to be “not suitable for accreditation”, but are considered by it to be able to meet the standards  in question within the specified period, the judgment will be deferred.

・   If it is determined by the Committee for Evaluation that an institution has intentionally acted in violation of social norms and ethics by making false reports or covering up the facts when preparing the “Self-Inspection and Evaluation Reports” or undergoing the process of On-site Inspection and JIHEE evaluation, the institution in question will be judged as “not suitable for accreditation.”

(ii)  For the institutions for which judgement is deferred, re-evaluation is conducted based on a regulation provided for separately. In case it is consequently determined that the standards initially judged “not satisfied” are judged “satisfied”, the institution is subsequently judged as “suitable for accreditation”. If it has not applied for re-evaluation within the deferral period specified by the Committee for Evaluation, it will be treated as “not suitable for accreditation”

(iii) JIHEE also conducts an overall evaluation of the institution from the viewpoint of the obligation of accountability to society.

(iv) JIHEE provides comments on the contents of the institution’s own unique standards.

(v) The remarks, in which the institution describes its characteristic educational and research activities or enterprises, will be introduced in an overall evaluation and disclosed to the public , and we expect that this will  further strengthen the institution’s commitment, and serve as reference for reform and improvement by other institutions.

(2) Evaluation Method

Evaluations are conducted through a process of document screening and On-site Inspection in accordance with the “Handbook for Evaluators (Universities)” provided separately Document screening includes an analysis of the “Self-Inspection and Evaluation Reports” (including the documentation and data submitted in support of the Self-Inspection and Evaluation Report) created and submitted by evaluated institutions. ;confirmation of integrity of the “Self-Inspection and Evaluation Reports”; confirmation of compliance with the School Education Act and the Standards for Establishment of Universities; and a review of how they respond to the results of investigations on implementation of  the Establishment Plan. On-site Inspections are conducted, focusing on the problems and superior features pointed out in the process of document screening.

(3) Appeals and Finalization of the Results of Evaluation

While evaluation results are expected to be used for the future improvement of the educational and research activities of evaluated institutions, they are also widely publicized to society at large, making it necessary to assure transparency of the evaluation process, as well as accuracy of the results of evaluation, and to finalize them.

Furthermore, since great importance is placed on communication with the institutions undergoing evaluation, JIHEE twice provides them with opportunities to appeal regarding the evaluation.. The first opportunity gives the institution the chance to respond to the draft of the Evaluation Report prepared by the Evaluation Team. The second opportunity to appeal against the judgement is provided prior to the finalization of evaluation results, when a second draft of the Evaluation Report of the Committee for Evaluation is provided to the subject institution. In order to provide even greater objectivity to the process of consideration of the appeals submitted, the Committee for Evaluation shall establish a Subcommittee for Appeals (Universities) to examine the appeals prior to the finalization of findings of the Committee for Evaluation.


7. Basic Schedule for Evaluations

  1. Accepting applications for evaluation from institutions of higher education.
  2. Holding seminars for university Liaison Officers to explain how to complete Self-Inspection and Evaluation Reports and the certified evaluation and accreditation schedule.
  3. Institutions seeking evaluation create and submit Self-Inspection and Evaluation Reports in accordance with the JIHEE “Handbook for Evaluators (Universities)”.
  4. JIHEE Evaluation Teams consisting of sufficiently trained Evaluators conduct document screening including review and analysis of the Self-Inspection and Evaluation Reports submitted by institutions undergoing evaluation.
  5. Evaluation Teams conduct On-site Inspection based on the results of document screening.
  6. Evaluation Teams prepare a draft of the Evaluation Report based on the results of document screening and On-site Inspection and submit it to JIHEE.
  7. JIHEE notifies institutions undergoing evaluation of the draft of the Evaluation Report. Institutions undergoing evaluation are given the opportunity to appeal regarding the draft.
  8. The Committee for Evaluation considers the content of the Evaluation Report and the appeals submitted by those in charge at the institutions undergoing evaluation, and when necessary, conducts hearings with Evaluation Team leaders and the personnel in charge at the institution to verify facts before deciding on a draft of Evaluation Report.
  9. JIHEE submits a second draft of Evaluation Report prior to finalization. Institutions undergoing evaluation are given a final opportunity to appeal regarding the draft of Evaluation Report.
  10. Upon appeals, the Subcommittee for Appeals is held to review the content of the Appeals.
  11. The Committee for Evaluation finalizes the drafted Evaluation Report based on review by the Subcommittee for Appeals.
  12. The Evaluation Report is submitted for approval of the Board of Directors.
  13. Institutions are notified of the finalized Evaluation Report, a compilation of the evaluation results, and a copy is submitted to the Minister of MEXT. In addition, the report is widely publicized on the JIHEE website.


8. Publication of Evaluation Results and Information Disclosure

(1) The Evaluation Report, a compilation of the evaluation results, is submitted to the evaluated institution and the Minister of MEXT. In addition, the contents of the evaluation are made available for public viewing on the JIHEE website. JIHEE will request that institutions undergoing evaluation post their Self-Inspection and Evaluation Reports on their official websites. By creating links between the evaluated institution and JIHEE websites, it will be possible to view the Self-Inspection and Evaluation Reports of each university.

(2) As an organization responsible to the public, JIHEE places great importance on the transparency and objectivity of its organizational structure, and in addition to providing public disclosure of the items regulated by Article 169, Paragraph  1 of the Ordinance for Enforcement of the School Education Act, JIHEE strives to provide any information in its possession regarding evaluation, to the best of its ability and in the most appropriate manner.

(3) Any requests submitted for disclosure of documents under the (sole) ownership of JIHEE shall be processed in accordance with JIHEE regulations. As a general rule, however, documents provided by institutions of higher education that are in the possession of JIHEE shall not be disclosed.


9. Evaluation Fees

Member institutions seeking evaluation are required to pay the following evaluation fees in accordance with the size of the institution. In addition, consumption taxes are added to evaluation fees.

Evaluation fees

(1)Basic fees per institution ¥2,000,000
(2)Per department ¥500,000
(3)Per graduate school ¥250,000
(4)Portion of the cost incurred for On-site Inspection
(accommodation, meeting room fees, lunch, etc.)

For a non-member university undergoing evaluation, the amount equivalent to membership fees for a period of 7 years will be added, in principle, to the above-listed evaluation fees.


10. Timing of Evaluation

Evaluations are conducted once every year. Institutions seeking JIHEE evaluation shall submit applications by the application deadline in accordance with the forms provided for separately. Furthermore, when requests are received from an institution, JIHEE shall implement evaluation of the institution without delay, unless justifiable grounds for delay apply. JIHEE shall conduct evaluations of institutions undergoing evaluation every 7 years or before.


11. Evaluation follow-up

An institution that has been judged as “suitable for accreditation” and that has received “recommendations for improvement” is required to prepare an Improvement Report to be made available to the general public. Moreover, the institution should post the Improvement Report on its website within the period specified by JIHEE as well as submit the report to JIHEE. JIHEE examines the Improvement Report submitted, and notifies the evaluated institution of the results.

In addition, upon request from the institution for comment or consultation as a follow-up for evaluation and accreditation  JIHEE will accommodate such requests after consideration.


12. Cancellation of Judgment Concerning “Suitability for Accreditation”

With regard to institutions judged as “Suitable for Accreditation”, if it is revealed that the institution has intentionally acted in violation of social norms and ethics by making false reports or covering up the facts after evaluation and accreditation is completed, the judgement may be annulled following the deliberation of the Committee for Evaluation and decision of the Board of Directors.


13. Improving of Evaluation System

JIHEE makes improvements to the evaluation system at all times. In order to improve the evaluation system, JIHEE refers to the opinion of relevant persons belonging to the evaluated institution, and Evaluators who participated in evaluation activities, or other related parties, and the results of research and investigation activities on higher education.  At the same time, JIHEE endeavors to improve the Evaluation Standards as necessary according to the self-evaluation by JIHEE and to build an appropriate evaluation system to evaluate institutions engaged in various social activities.

In the event of any modification to Evaluation Standards or evaluation method, we will make opinion inquiries or seek public comment from related parties of member institutions or high schools prior to that modification, to ensure the fairness and transparency of the process.


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