This volume contains an analysis of the second round of the National Agency´s audits of quality assurance procedures at institutional level, which has now been completed, and of the second year of the evaluations of subjects and programmes in the six-year quality review system launched in 2001.
Of the 39 higher education institutions, 33 have now undergone two audits of their quality assurance procedures. At most of those audited, improvements in quality assurance procedures had been made between the first and second round. However, only four of the institutions had developed totally self-regulating quality systems in the sense that they are structured to function so that planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation and improvement phases follow on from each other. The future form of quality assurance audits is to be reviewed. No audits of the current kind will take place until the current cycle of evaluations of subjects and programmes concludes in 2006.
A total of 130 assessors have, together with the Agency´s own staff, conducted 264 appraisals of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the following subjects: archaeology, Baltic languages, Celtic languages, chemistry, classical archaeology, economic history, Egyptology, environmental and health protection, environmental engineering, environmental science, history, Slavic languages and east and central European studies, social work, and also programmes leading to the award of qualifications in engineering, marine engineering, navigation and social work.
The findings show that most programmes maintain good standards, a source of congratulation for the Sweden higher education institutions. However, the right to award degrees has been questioned in a number of cases. Several of the problems already noted last year recur this year as well. These concern lack of resources and the heavy workloads of the teaching staff, the problems for small subjects, declining enrolment catchments for a number of programmes, variations in the conditions for postgraduate students and course evaluations that do not function as intended.
At the follow-up conferences, in the action plans requested by the National Agency, and from questions addressed to the staff at the institutions responsible for quality assurance or quality co-ordinators, the National Agency has been able to determine that the evaluations have contributed to a number of improvements. They are also said to have played a role in increasing awareness of the importance of quality issues and the introduction of increasingly purposeful quality assurance routines.
The National Agency works continuallyto assure the quality of the evaluations and to continue to develop them. During 2002 studies of the evaluation model have been produced and a meeting took place with “The Advisory Board" - the National Agency´s international group of advisors. Special seminars have also been arranged for staff responsible for quality assurance at the higher education institutions and quality co-ordinators together with undergraduate and postgraduate students.