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Please note! The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education was closed down on 31 December 2012. Instead two new agencies have been established: the Swedish Council for Higher Education and the Swedish Higher Education Authority. This website will continue to operate as the new agencies will have links to information it contains.  

Report 2009:35 R

Analysis of Supervisory Cases, Decided 2005-2008

The report (640 kB)
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This is a summary in English. The report is available only in Swedish.

This report contains a compilation and analysis of the supervisory cases about which Högskoleverket (Swedish National Agency for Higher Education) issued decisions during the period 2005—2008 and which were initiated due to reported complaints by individuals. The report is a continuation of the work started by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education about two years ago, with the equivalent analyses of supervisory cases from the years 2005 and 2006. The report thus links the statistics gathered from the supervisory cases decided in 2007 and 2008 to the results of the previous analysis, making a unified analysis for the entire period.
 
In these cases, a total of 375, the Agency has determined whether the higher education institutions have followed the applicable rules and whether the legal rights of students and other individuals in relation to the higher education system have been respected.
 
The compilation demonstrates how the number of settled supervisory cases were distributed among the higher education institutes, disciplinary domains and education cycles during 2005—2008, how many cases involved women or men, which legal issues students or doctoral students complained about and the results of these complaints.

The analysis reveals that 33 percent, or 124, of all reports resulted in some form of criticism about at least one legal issue. The equivalent figure in the previous analysis, for 2005 and 2006, was almost 37 percent, so the proportion of decisions that contain criticism has somewhat declined in recent years. Of the critical decisions, a total of 27 percent also contained a notification of future follow-ups or a direct request for a statement of the measures the higher education institution intended to take due to the criticism. Criticism that often contained a decision about follow-ups applied to different types of long processing times, for example issuing degree certificates or for submitting appeals to Överklagandenämnden för högskolan (ÖNH — Higher Education Appeals Board), followed by criticism of course or programme syllabi.
 
Analysis of the relationship between the number of men and women shows that men more frequently report problems to the Agency.

In the report, the legal issues that were relevant to the settled supervisory cases have been divided into the following categories: admission, syllabi and individual study plans, supervision, student influence, credit transfer and examinations, general legal issues relating to administration, discrimination and other issues.

The analysis shows that students at first-cycle level and second-cycle level often complained about examination issues (including credit transfer) and that the single most common examination complaint involved the grade the higher education institution awarded the student. However, the reports that most frequently resulted in criticism were complaints about general legal issues relating to administration and faults in course and programme syllabi.
 
It has also become apparent that doctoral students are clearly over-represented in settled cases in relation to other students. This imbalance in reports from doctoral students was consistent throughout all the years that have been analysed. While doctoral students often complained about poor supervision and problems associated with admission, it was complaints about admission that were the most frequent cause for Agency to criticise the reported higher education institution.
 
In the future, these observations may affect how the Agency prioritises supervisory activities.

Even though the Agency is not able to change a decision made by a higher education institution, the compilation demonstrates that the criticism, and sometimes even the actual report, can often lead to problems being solved. In some cases, the individual student received help and vindication. Other cases discovered systematic faults that should be remedied, which will hopefully result in improved standards for legal issues relating to administration at the higher education institution. Reports that did not result in criticism sometimes also resulted in some clarification that was significant, both to the higher education institution and the individual. It is thus possible to state that the Agency's supervisory activities have a positive influence on student's legal rights due to reports made by individuals.

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