Testing a new quality-assurance model
A new model for quality assurance in higher education will be introduced in Sweden in 2018. The model is being tested in 14 programmes at LiU in a pilot project. One of these is the Occupational Therapy programme.
The government’s new system for quality assurance in higher education means that Swedish institutions of higher education are expected to take more responsibility for ensuring the quality of their programmes and courses. Each institution must introduce systematic processes, which the Swedish Higher Education Authority, UKÄ, is responsible for auditing. The new system is a form of self-monitoring in which, to put it simply, the UKÄ confirms that we audit ourselves in an acceptable manner.
At Linköping University, a university-wide model has been developed, compatible with the existing faculty organisation, with a certain amount of flexibility permitted for local adaptation. The model is now being tested on 14 educational programmes. One of these is the Occupational Therapy programme. Mathilda Björk, subject representative in occupational therapy, and Annika Lindh Falk, director of studies in the Division of Occupational Therapy, are two members of a group of four at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences testing the LiU model.
“What we are now looking at is whether it is possible to audit an educational programme using the model,” says Mathilda Björk. “Can the same template be used at all levels and in all faculties? The questions posed by the template are general, but the programmes are all different.”
The work is divided into several stages. The first of these is to draw up a report in which key indicators and statistics, such as student turnover, are presented. The report examines the education from several aspects and perspectives such as how well its objectives are met, how closely it is coupled to research, and how well it promotes gender equality. Each aspect or perspective is described and analysed.
The report is then to be presented to the Programme Committee, in the case of programmes in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. This leads to a programme dialogue with representatives for the department and the faculty, the result of which is a plan of action for circulation and approval. This document must subsequently be followed up.
“The advantage of this model is that the document is a living document, which in itself helps to ensure a high quality,” says Annika Lindh Falk. “In the previous system, in which the UKÄ made the assessment, it was only when the result was judged to be “deficient quality” that we were forced to start a systematic process with a plan of action to improve the quality. The new model ensures that issues are dealt with as they arise.”
The aim of the pilot project is to evaluate the model. Mathilda Björk and Annika Lindh Falk have already identified some areas for improvement.
“Support functions at all levels are important in this work,” says Mathilda Björk. “One example concerns how to obtain the key indicators. Some of these are available for each department, while others are available for each faulty. Some are only available for LiU as a whole. The systems are in place, but unambiguous guidelines are required concerning which indicators are to be used and the best way of obtaining them.”
“In this way, the new model will ensure quality not only for LiU in its entirety, but also for the support functions at all levels,” Annika Lindh Falk adds.
Another question that has come up during the testing is how other evaluations, such as the student survey, co-worker survey, and PhD student survey, are to be included in the work. This is relevant also for course evaluations.
“It would be best if they could be linked in in some way, and thus become one way of evaluating our plan of action,” says Mathilda Björk.
The working group has also discussed finance and resources requirements. This is a perspective that is not covered by the report.
“The quality audits themselves probably won’t cost more that the working hours of the people involved,” says Annika Lindh Falk. “but a plan of action may very well end up costing money and other resources.”
Gender equality is an example of a question that the UKÄ wants to be included in the quality audit.
“If we are going to work towards better gender equality on the programme, we must attract more men to it,” says Mathilda Björk. This will need both resources and money for such things as marketing.
The pilot project for the Occupational Therapy Programme started in June, when the templates became available. The report has been drawn up during the autumn term. Discussion of the report will take place starting in the middle of October, and the pilot project is to be complete by the end of 2017.
“It’s important that we have a template that we can work with,” says Annika Lindh Falk. “It must be clear and attractive for everyone to work with it.”
“In a broader perspective, I hope that this model can bring added value and increased consensus in the work of quality assurance. Both the department and the faculty have been clearly involved with the process as it was carried out, and I’m sure that this makes the task easier. Hopefully, knowledge of the plans of action for other courses and programmes will make it possible to carry out university-wide investments into quality assurance,” says Mathilda Björk.
Members of the group from the Occupational Therapy Programme working on the pilot project:
- Mathilda Björk, subject representative
- Annika Lindh Falk, director of studies
- Vedrana Bolic Baric, programme coordinator
- Anette Kjellberg, senior lecturer.
The work is based on the following documents:
Last updated: 2017-10-24