Tag: quality

Podcast: Academic developers and quality management with Ester Fremstad and Tone Solbrekke

excid_logoWe are pleased to share with you some of the recordings that were made during a seminar that was arranged on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Oslo.

The presentations are made by members of the ExCID research group that focuses on studies of higher education and work, with particular emphasis on expert cultures and institutional dynamics.

The seminar recordings were made on 27th of September 2016.

In this presetation, Dr. Ester Fremstad and Prof. Tone Solbrekke present their ongoing study on academic development: Academic developers and quality management: perspectives from institutional leaders

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View the powerpoint presentation for this seminar.


View also the presentation by Peter Maassen on quality management in higher education. Stay tuned for even more content from the seminar!

Podcast: Quality Management of Norwegian Higher Education

Professor Peter Maassen

Professor Peter Maassen (University of Oslo)

We are pleased to share with you some of the recordings that were made during a seminar that was arranged on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Oslo. The presentations are made by members of the ExCID research group that focuses on studies of higher education and work, with particular emphasis on expert cultures and institutional dynamics.

The seminar recordings were made on 27th of September 2016.

In the following presentation, Peter Maassen presents key insights from recent projects on quality in higher education, titled: “Quality Management of Norwegian Higher Education: complexities and visions on possible future developments“. Before the presenration, professor Monika Nerland introduces the overall seminar.

Listen without the Flashplayer

View the powerpoint presentation for this seminar.

Stay tuned for more content from the seminar!

Hedda podcast: Student engagement with knowledge as a means to define quality

Episode 44 of our podcast series features Dr. Paul Ashwin from Lancaster University in the UK. In the podcast we talk about student engagement with knowledge as a key feature of quality in higher education, and he reflects on some of the key results from a three year long study on pedagogical quality and inequality in the UK.

Listen without the Flashplayer

Click here to download the Policy makers guide (pdf) that the research team has prepared based on the project results. 

View also the publications that the podcast is referring to:

Dr. Paul Ashwin  (Lancaster University)

Dr. Paul Ashwin
(Lancaster University)

Dr. Paul Ashwin is employed as a Senior Lecturer and Head of Department at the Department of Educational Research at Lancaster University in the UK. Earlier he has worked at the Institute for the Advancement of University Learning, University of Oxford and Newham College of Further Education. His key research interests are related to the relations between teaching-learning and knowledge-curriculum practices in higher education, as well as the implications of this for both policy and practice. He has also a keen interest on the methodological development of higher education studies in this area.

Norwegian students generally satisfied with their studies

norwayflagThe Norwegian Quality Assurance Agency (NOKUT) has launched a new nation wide student survey regarding students’ satisfaction. This is the first national survey of this kind in Norway and will now be repeated on a yearly basis. The responses this year came from about 17 600 students from 58 universities and university colleges in Norway, with a response rate of about 32%.

The central results from the survey indicated that Norwegian students are in general satisfied with their studies. On the question whether they are satisfied, 77% gave a respons that they were satisfied and only 8% indicated that they were not satisfied (1 and 2 on a scale of 5). Amongst professionally oriented programmes, nurse and kindergarten teacher education are those with a highest levels of satisfaction. On the other hand, teacher education students are generally more critical. Students also rank highly the relevance of their studies for future employment (81% indicate a high rank) and how academically challenging their studies are (86% indicate a high rank).

While there was general satisfaction amongst the students, this was contrasted with the fact that only half of the students were happy with the teaching and even fewer with the feedback they receive. For instance, 59% of the political science students are unhappy with supervision and feedback.

European Commission report on quality assurance in Europe

EUQuality assurance is one of the areas where European cooperation has advanced in a relatively significant manner over the last decade. Recently, the Commission published a new report on issues related to quality and quality assurance in Europe. The report refers to the 2009 report that put forward three main aims: to make quality assurance (QA) more transparent for users, to link it closer to the wider aims of higher education, and to further develop cross-border cooperation. 

The current report sums up the most important developments in quality assurance in Europe since 2009 with various available reports from sources such as EHEA working group, EUA, EACEA, IBAR and ESU. While progress is reported on most areas, it is also highlighted that linking quality assurance to concrete quality improvement processes and strategic work of the institutions remains a challenge. The positive impact of the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG) is noted, but it is also highlighted that their implementation has this far been rather uneven, and a revision process of ESG is now in process. 

The report highlights that the areas where more action is still necessary are in particular widening access, employability, internationalisation, improvement of doctoral training as well as human resource strategies. The need to shift attention to the content rather than the procedural aspects of quality assurance is highlighted in several parts of the document. Furthermore quality assurance issues are linked to mobility concerns and qualifications frameworks, perhaps a rather unsurprising linkage, considering that both of these topics have been a rather successful themes in European higher education for EU led joint cooperation.

How do students view quality in higher education? Results from a new survey by ESU

ESU-logoThe European Student Union (ESU) is a body representing over 11 million students through its 47 member organisations in 39 countries. ESU engages in debates about higher education in European policy arenas, but also engage in research projects relevant to student interests in higher education. One of such research projects is the Quest for Quality for Students project, or QUEST for short, funded by the European Commission and set to finish this autumn.

Fernando Miguel Galán Palomares, ESU’s Vice-Chairperson and main coordinator of the project said in the press release: “One of our goals throughout this project has been to raise awareness about the understanding of quality from students’ point of view.  QUEST has been able to perform a pan-European analysis on the students’ perceptions on the quality of higher education. The aim is to shed light on this field and to map interesting patterns that pave the way for further investigationThus, the findings can be taken into consideration and influence discussions on higher education, having a positive effect on it and improve its quality.”

The first results of the survey conducted in Germany, Latvia, Norway, Poland and Slovenia were published earlier this month in a report by Jens Jungblut and Martina Vukasovic. The project is focused around three key questions:

  • What is the students’ view on quality of higher education?
  • Do quality assurance mechanisms at European, national and institutional level actually enhance quality in the understanding of students?
  • What sort of information do students need to be provided to them in relation to what they perceive as quality education?

All of the students failed university admission exams in Liberia?

Map of Liberia (Source: Oona Räisänen)

Map of Liberia
(Source: Oona Räisänen)

BBC is reporting that in one of the two state run Liberian universities, all (!) of the students failed at the university admission exam.

Current Liberian president, the Nobel prize winning Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has frequently made statements regarding issues in the Liberian educational system. She sees the educational system as a key aspect for the nation’s future wellbeing and success:at the end of the day, if you do not have an educated population, we will be unable to build the national capacities of our young people“, and she has called for a total overhaul of the system.

The BBC correspondent for the current case has observed that “schools lack basic education material and teachers are poorly qualified“. However, one could argue that even in that context, there should be at least some percentage of students who would have the basic capacities to successfully complete the admission exams?

Well, the case of Liberia now – none. According to BBC, the university official said that the students lacked enthusiasm and English language skills, and they have made clear they would not be moved from their decision on this. Furthermore, they also argued that it is the government who now has to do something.

Less clear is what exactly the government can do in this context. After the bloody civil war  that destroyed much of the current educational system, there is still much of the basic infrastructure that needs to be set in place.

High Level Group on Modernisation of HE in Europe: Universities need to put focus on teaching

teachingThe EU has for some time through various policy instruments getting increasingly involved in higher education across Europe. Initial progress through the Bologna Process has been followed up with activities such as the new multidimensional ranking – U-Multirank as well as an European Qualifications Framework.

Amongst else this resulted in September 2012 in the creation of a high level group on modernisation of higher education that had a specific focus on quality and excellence in teaching, in accordance with the general Modernisation Agenda for Higher Education the Commission has been promoting.

At the launch of the group in 2012 Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth emphasized thatWith the help of the high level group I want to ensure that every student, regardless of where they live or study in Europe, will benefit from quality teaching. This is a pre-condition for innovation, jobs and growth.”  The group was led by former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese and included a number of prominent members (rectors and university professors as well as representatives from the private sector). The activities of the group have been supported by wide scale consultation.

Last month, in June 2013 the high level group delivered its recommendations. At the launch of the report, Commissioner Vassiliou emphasized that the recommendations would not necessitate the use of substantial additional expenditure, and further highlighted the importance of teaching quality as well as Commissions commitment to “do all it can” to support implementation.

The core conclusion in the report is that institutions, while having its core mission divided by teaching and research, tend to focus on the latter. This is perhaps a fact that does not provide to be surprising to anyone studying higher education, provided the current excellence drive and increasing use of performance indicators that largely focus on research. However, the Commission has plans to change this as Vassiliou exmphasized: “The role of teaching in defining academic merit needs a stronger emphasis and recognition, especially in career terms” . Futhermore, greater focus has to be put on training of academics.

Guest blogger: From Massification to Quality Assurance in Ethiopia

Ayenachew Aseffa Woldegiyorgis

Ayenachew Aseffa Woldegiyorgis

In this guest entry, Ayenachew Aseffa Woldegiyorgis examines recent change of focus in Ethiopian higher education, where after decades of focusing on expansion, concerns of quality have become high on the agenda.

Ayenachew has studied Management and Masters of Public Administration (MPA). For over eight years he has taught at Unity University and Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. Currently he is a student of Masters in Research and Innovation in Higher Education (MARIHE) at Danube University (Austria), University of Tampere (Finland), Beijing Normal University (China) and University of Osnabruck (Germany). 

The past fifteen years are marked by a massive expansion in the Ethiopian higher education (HE). The number of public universities increased from just two by the end of 1990s to 32 in 2013. Total enrollment has increased from 42,132 in 1996/97 to 319,217 in 2010/11 and it is targeted to reach 467,445 by 2014/15 (MOE, 2005; 2010a). Yet, as much as it is hailed for its success in the massification, the government has been equally criticized for immensely neglecting quality. Recently the government has admitted to this  problem and declared that it has redirected its attention from expansion to quality assurance.

Ethiopia’s quality endeavor is now faced with a complicated set of challenges and requires a well thought out, comprehensive strategy and strong commitment. On one hand, the issue of quality has been long neglected implying that the problem has accrued over the years and the reform effort has to begin from almost zero. On the other hand, the very nature of quality assurance in HE is complex and demands multidimensional and concurrent attention on the various determinants. The overall strategy for quality should focus on (but not be limited to) the following major and interdependent challenges, each one of which can be further analyzed in greater detail. 

News: U-Multirank launched

u_multirankU-Multirank is by their own definition a new “multidimensional, user-driven approach” to rankings. As the majority of rankings out there are widely criticized for not getting the whole picture and being heavily research biased, the Commission funded project of developing U-Multirank is set to challenge these criticisms and develop a more flexible approach.

U-Multirank was officially launched last week in Dublin, and project co-leader Frank Ziegele and team member Don Westerheijden introduced the relevance of the instrument to various stakeholder groups. The goal is to publish the first ranking of 500 institutions early 2014, covering both full institutions and three disciplinary fields (engineering, business and physics).

The project is funded by the Commission and has been a highly profiled instrument in the context of European higher education area. Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, argued that U-Multirank is “a modern and sophisticated ranking, capturing the full diversity of higher education“. Of course, the Commission is known for their big words and the full diversity has nevertheless to be taken in the context of measurable indicators.

The general feedback has been somewhat more cautious, while optimistic. For instance, while the European Students Union (ESU) has been involved in the development of U-Multirank, their recent press release on the occasion of the kick-off was still somewhat modest and indicated not assurance but hope that U-Multirank can avoid the pitfalls of previous rankings. Nevertheless, the potential of such instrument to provide information to students was highlighted.