Follow up of subject and programme evaluations 2003
Three disciplinary domains were evaluated during 2003 and thirteen study programmes had their degree-awarding powers questioned as a result of these evaluations. After appropriate measures were taken to remedy the shortcomings all retained their degree-awarding powers. A follow-up questionnaire to the 2003 evaluations was sent out during the spring and autumn of 2008. The response rate was 85 per cent. At least half of the respondents felt that the evaluation process had been valuable. The majority felt that the system of self evaluation had resulted in improved internal quality assurance procedures. One criticism was that there was too long a time gap between the evaluation process and the publication of the evaluation report. Another criticism was that there was too much focus on administrative and organisational matters rather than on academic results.
An evaluation report contains general and specific recommendations. The general recommendations refer to a disciplinary domain throughout Sweden. The specific recommendations refer to a specific higher education institution (HEI). The answers to the follow-up questionnaire suggest that HEIs have taken note of the viewpoints of the evaluators. With regard to the specific recommendations, the majority of HEIs have taken measures to remedy the shortcomings. If this has not happened, the reason is usually limited financial resources or lack of staff.
An evaluation report always contains a comment about academic staff. This is nearly always about the need to improve the opportunities for staff to conduct research and to participate in professional development. The answers to the follow-up questionnaire indicate that the overall competence of staff has been improved by new recruitment or by allowing lecturers without doctorates to complete doctoral studies.
An evaluation report sometimes contains recommendations to increase teaching capacity. There have been few possibilities to increase teaching capacity in minor subjects, for example, oriental and African language, and landscape architecture. However, there are examples of teaching teams being created to reduce the vulnerability of these minor programmes and increase flexibility.
The new System of Qualifications that was introduced in July 2007 has increased the demands with regard to level and progression in courses and study programmes. The evaluation process has been a support in this transition. There are signs that HEIs are placing more emphasis on developing methodology.
Many evaluation reports highlight the need for cooperation on a national level in order to strengthen small teaching environments. Examples of this type of cooperation include arranging annual conferences, setting up national networks, and developing joint courses at doctoral level.
Evaluation reports often mention the need for strong links between higher education and the employment market. The need to provide information about the employment opportunities for graduates is highlighted. The answers to the follow-up questionnaire indicate that this is taking the form of keeping better track of graduates, integrating study visits and placements into study programmes, intensifying alumni activities, and employing teaching staff who are active in the professions.
Evaluation reports include comments about gender equality, widening participation and student influence. The reports indicate that students are able to influence their studies. However, there appears to be a lack of feedback from staff to students and few students appear to want to be participants in formal bodies at HEIs. Most HEIs appear to do what they can in order to achieve a gender balance in the staff and student body. The responses to the questionnaire indicate that there is a desire to place more emphasis on this area although this varies from subject to subject.