New quality assurance system for KTH

Published Jan 24, 2018

KTH is introducing a new system to ensure the quality of its courses. The new system is significantly more thorough than its predecessor.
“It imposes ambitious requirements with regards to education initiatives, while providing us with good opportunities to continue to develop our courses,” says Per Berglund, Vice Dean of Faculty.

KTH’s internal system comes as a result of the Swedish Higher Education Authority’s (UKÄ) new quality assurance model. National regulations allow considerable scope for educational institutions to design their own systems to suit their needs. This year, KTH is focusing on the achievement of objectives in its courses. In future this could cover such issues as gender equality or sustainable development, according to Per Berglund.

Quality assurance is pursued along two parallel paths – annual monitoring of all programmes and regular reviews, involving a detailed evaluation of each degree programme every six years. Courses at all levels are included, but also research and collaboration at a later stage.

Per Berglund hopes the system will help further enhance the quality of KTH’s courses.

“We need to continually review and improve courses and programmes, particularly in response to global changes. It could relate to teaching methods, examinations and how students receive information. We will now have a clear and systematic way of taking our quality work forward.”

At the same time he is conscious that course directors at various levels in the schools often have heavy workloads.

“There will be a substantial amount of extra work involved in compiling data, analysing it and drawing conclusions, and I know that many already have plenty on their plate. If the system is to work, it’s important that time is set aside for people to concentrate on quality issues, and that there is administrative support for programme directors and directors of first and second cycle education.”

The goal is for the quality assurance system to be of benefit to everyone involved.

“Hopefully we will gain clear feedback at all levels: lecturers, course leaders, programme directors and directors of first, second and third cycle education at the schools’ management levels.”

Next year, KTH’s quality assurance work will be reviewed by UKÄ. An external assessment group will conduct interviews with students, teachers and management and examine KTH’s self-evaluation.

In the pilot assessments carried out in 2017, UKÄ used a two-point assessment scale – pass or fail. Compared with previously, educational institutions have been given greater opportunities to respond to criticism before they receive their assessments under the new system.

Research will also be included in the national quality assurance system. The design of the system has yet to be finalised, but KTH aims to use the same model as before – Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) – with reviews every six years.

UKÄ’s new quality assurance system will mean that Sweden will once again satisfy requirements for being included in the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, ENQA.

Text: Christer Gummeson

Footnote: Elements of KTH’s quality assurance system were introduced last year. The President is expected to make a decision in the near future regarding the system’s fundamental principles.

Principles of KTH’s quality assurance system:

  • Continual monitoring: Conducted every year via a quality dialogue between the Dean of Faculty, Vice Dean of Faculty and the Head of each school. The dialogues are based on analyses of degree programmes and equivalent reports on third cycle studies at the school. The results of course evaluations and course analyses are also examined.
  • Regular review: Takes place in six-year cycles via self-evaluation and the results of each school’s annual monitoring. Degree projects and individual study plans may be included as supplementary sources of information.
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