Institutional reviews of the HEIs' quality assurance processes

Institutional reviews aim to confirm that the quality assurance processes ensure high quality courses and programmes and help to enhance the HEIs’ quality.

HEIs and the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) have a shared responsibility for quality assurance in higher education and research. Most quality assurance efforts are to be conducted by the HEIs. This requires HEIs to have systematic quality assurance processes that UKÄ is responsible for assessing.

UKÄ is also responsible for ensuring that all the courses and programmes are encompassed by these processes. This is done partly by UKÄ evaluating a selection of programmes and partly by the HEIs having responsibility for quality assuring their own courses and programmes and that UKÄ monitors that this has been carried out.

The process for institutional reviews

Process for Institutional Reviews

Assessment material

The basis for the review consists of a self-evaluation by the HEI, a student report, interviews, site visits, audit trails and other information. All assessment material for the review is to be weighed together.

1. The HEI’s self-evaluation. The HEIs are asked to describe, analyse and evaluate how they systematically ensure and follow up that they fulfil the assessment criteria for the different aspects and perspectives. Examples should be given to support the presentation.

2. Student report. The local student union has the option of submitting a written statement, known as a student report, in which the union gives its opinion of the quality assurance work at the HEI.

3. Interviews and site visits. Interviews will be conducted both before and during the site visit. The purpose of the initial interview is to gain an overall picture of the quality assurance processes, to improve planning for the site visit, and to identify the areas that the panel wants to gain a detailed picture of during the site visit. Initial interviews and site visits involve representatives from the HEI and student representatives, and possibly employer and labour market representatives with which the HEI cooperates.

4. Audit trails. To examine how quality assurance processes work in practice, the assessors examine one or more areas of focus. In this context, areas of focus are quality assurance processes, related to the aspects, perspectives and assessment criteria in the selected and assessed environment during the site visit. To see how quality assurance processes work in practice, the process is followed from the overall organisation at the HEI to the local level, that is, an environment which could consist of one or more courses and programmes (main field, subject area, programme) or other types of environments, like a library. 

5. Other assessment material. Prior to reviews, UKÄ produces data for the HEI relevant to the aspects to be examined. This data could be previous inspections, appraisals of degree-awarding power applications, programme evaluations and national statistics showing student completion and establishment levels, and illustrating the HEI from a national perspective.

Assessments and reports

The assessment panel’s judgment on whether the HEI meets the assessment criteria for the reviewed aspect areas and perspectives results in a report that serves as the basis for UKÄ’s decision. Before UKÄ’s final decision, the panel’s preliminary judgement will be sent to the HEI for review.

One year to address the problems

If the quality assurance processes do not meet the criteria, the HEI has one year to present the measures it has taken to address the problems. UKÄ will appoint an assessment panel to review the measures. If the HEI’s quality assurance processes still do not meet the assessment criteria in the follow-up review, this means that an additional follow-up review should be conducted after a period agreed upon by UKÄ and the HEI jointly. This also means that an increased number of the HEI’s programmes can be evaluated by the HEI.

Follow-up for all HEIs

UKÄ believes it is important that even HEIs that receive approval for their quality assurance work have follow-ups. The forms for this type of follow-up are being drafted and could include dialogue meetings, surveys and conferences.