2005:45 R

Evaluation of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in physical planning at Blekinge Institute of Technology

This is a report of a quality evaluation of physical planning at both undergraduate and postgraduate level at Blekinge Institute of Technology, the only higher education institution in Sweden offering a programme in which physical planning is the major subject - a systematic professionally-oriented degree programme lasting 4½ years.

The evaluation was entrusted by the National Agency for Higher Education to a panel of external assessors consisting of two professors with expert knowledge of the subject from Norway, a student from the programme in landscape architecture at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, a PhD student from the postgraduate programme at the Lund Institute of Technology and an expert from the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions.

The panel of assessors saw many qualities in the educational setting, including well organised and implemented teaching and committed students and teachers. The panel did, however, make a number of recommendations that could further enhance the quality of the programme. It felt that the programme´s objectives could be made more stringent and that consideration should be given to the introduction of planning theory as a subject in the first year of the programme. The panel proposes that both the theoretical reflections on design and form and the studies in the social and human sciences could be enhanced. It also considers that further review of both the reading lists and the syllabuses is required by those responsible for the programme. Problems relating to group work should be discussed with the students and individual teaching and examinations enhanced.

A fairly large number of students drop out after the first year and many students fail to complete the programme by finishing their degree projects. The panel of assessors urges the Blekinge Institute of Technology to monitor these aspects of the programme systematically. The panel also observed that research is externally funded to a great extent and that the finance for most of the postgraduate students comes from external funding. As postgraduate programmes are offered in a network this means that the current environment for postgraduate teaching at Karlskrona is fragile. The panel of assessors feels that a strategy for the future should be developed. Not least in order to enable the subject and the programme to recruit future teachers with PhD´s in the subject, the postgraduate programme itself should be enhanced considerably with, for instance, internally funded postgraduate students. Finally the panel indicated a number of external factors that affect the way in which physical planning is offered at the institute. The Blekinge Institute of Technology´s main profile is in information and communication technology. The panel therefore raises the question of whether enough attention is paid to the section that offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in physical planning by the higher education institution itself.