Degree programmes

Degree programmes are assessed regularly in order for them to qualify for (re-)accreditation. How is such an assessment executed? What role can QANU play in the process? And what are the benefits of cluster assessments?

Accreditation of new and existing programs in higher education is based on the assessment frameworks of the Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organisation (NVAO). Peer review is the basic principle of assessment; a panel of peers, experts in the field, assess the quality of a programme or a cluster of programmes.

At the start of each project, independent peer reviewers with the academic expertise, necessary skills and professional experience to perform the assessment are proposed by the programmes (institutions) under assessment, and approached by QANU. The definitive panel composition is submitted to the NVAO for approval. An independent secretary, certified by the NVAO, is appointed to support and assist the panel during the assessment process.

Prior to a site visit, the panel examines a critical reflection, prepared by the degree programme. A selection of final projects and various documents regarding assessment procedures and examination practice are also studied in detail. During the site visit, the programme management, Board of Examiners, Education Committee, teaching staff, students and alumni are interviewed by the panel to verify the findings in the critical reflection. The panel formulates and presents its preliminary findings at the end of the site visit. 

The secretary drafts a report that contains the panel’s findings and conclusions on the quality of the  programme. The institution submits the report at the NVAO, which rules on the accreditation of the degree programme. 

QANU has expertise in and experience with all aspects of the assessment process at organisational and practical level. Project managers at QANU are NVAO certified secretaries. QANU approaches candidate panel members, assists degree programmes in the preparation for a site visit, organises and offers (secretarial) support during site visits and prepares the final report for submission.

Degree programmes are required to be assessed in so-called clusters. These clusters are based on specific academic disciplines and often include multiple degree programmes at several universities. Preparations for the assessment process of clusters are time-consuming and complex. QANU is specialised in successfully organizing the assessment of clusters in higher education.

QANU also provides advice and support for higher education professionals and institutions. QANU offers quality assurance training sessions, workshops (eg with advice and guidance on writing a critical reflection), midterm reviews and thematic quick scans. It could organise trial assessments to prepare for site visits or the accreditation of a (new) degree programme. QANU also offers training sessions on internal quality assurance, and (systems of) assessment.

For more information on the advantages of working with QANU and tailor-made solutions for your institution, please contact Linda te Marvelde, coordinator degree programmes.

The critical reflection is the basis for a programme assessment. It is the result of a critical and systematic analysis of the choices made by a programme. A critical reflection outlines a programme’s intended learning outcomes, it present its curriculum design and the environment in which it is offered, and it gives an overview of the procedures in place to assess students and to evaluate their results. It also contains an analysis of a programme’s strengths and weaknesses, in which good practice and points for further improvement are hightlighted.

A key task of the assessment panel is to verify the information provided in the critial reflection and, if required, to complement it during the site visit. Based on all information at its disposal, the panel assesses whether a programme meets the criteria for accreditation. Therefore, a critical reflection is central to the assessment process and it is expected to be transparent, comprehensible, complete and accurate.

To assist you in writing a good critical reflection, we provide you with guidelines suited to your assessment. In this guidelines, you will find how to interpret the relevant framework, and which information to include in the critical reflection for the programme assessment to be as smooth as possible.

Do you need additional help or advice while writing a critical reflection? Please contact Linda te Marvelde, coordinator degree programmes.

In a state of the art report, panels describe the state of the art within a particular discipline based on their assessment of a cluster group of programmes. QANU assists panels in preparing these reports and publishes these after approval by all higher education institutions involved. 

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