Experiences and learnings from UKÄ's quality evaluations 2011-2014

The report outlines possible effects that the method of the previous evaluation system might have had on the outcome of evaluations, especially if some types of education have been disadvantaged.

During the evaluation cycle that took place in 2011-2014, there was a discussion about whether the method would have disadvantaged certain types of education. The report summarizes that discussion in a number of questions.

Questions discussed in the report

  • Did the outcome of the evaluation system give a true and fair view of the quality of Swedish higher education, taking into account the proportion of education with a lack of quality?
  • How did the strong focus on the degree work affect the evaluation of professional qualifications? Was the method too much aimed at theoretical knowledge and not practical ones, and did it disadvantage the evaluated professional qualifications?
  • Have the evaluations with regard to the different number of courses affected the outcome? Has a larger evaluation meant that less time is allowed per education, and that the assessors who conduct the review have not had the chance to discuss the individual programs thoroughly?
  • Are there education areas that are more self-critical than others, which means that in evaluative situations they appear to be worse when it comes to different approaches and academic cultures?
  • Can the context in which an education is reviewed influence the outcome of it? Can a deviation from the crowd be overlooked? And can a large spread of different main areas in an evaluation lead to a greater challenge for assessors to take into account individualities that may be important in the review?
  • Has the method of the 2011-2014 evaluation system disadvantaged interdisciplinary education (general degrees) by focusing on a limited area with little regard to their more cross-border nature?

Overall challenges

Our assessment is that these issues can be considered as general challenges in systematic audits and evaluations of education quality. The review of them in the report may therefore be of interest to both UKÄ and future audits, as well as to higher education institutions when designing their internal quality system. As the new national quality assurance system has increased focus on the university's own quality work, we consider it important to share experiences that may be relevant to the further development of the quality system of higher education institutions.  

New system introduced with major changes

On January 1, 2017 a new national quality assurance system was introduced. Overall, major changes have been made, where the design of the entire new system can be seen as a response to the focus and ambition of the former system. If the outcome of the reviews in the future will be discussed based on similar issues or if there are other questions that will be discussed is hard to tell. Similarly, how the outcome will be received and if it will be considered more appropriate in assessing and developing the quality of education. UKÄ will continue to map, follow up and analyze method, outcomes and effects.