Startpage for Swedish National Agency for Higher Education

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.  

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How Did Things Turn Out?

Final report on the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education´s quality appraisals 2001-2006

The report (pdf)
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In 2001 the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education began its task of evaluating all undergraduate and graduate programmes that lead to the award of a general degree or a professional qualification. Now the first six-year cycle has come to an end and it is time to sum up. Between 2001 and 2006 no fewer than about 1,700 programmes have been assessed. During the period other forms of evaluation have been undertaken as well: about 150 applications for entitlement to award degrees have been appraised, there have been a large number of audits of the quality assurance procedures at the higher education institutions and a several thematic evaluations.

Within the framework of the subject and programmes evaluations as many as ten per cent on average of the programmes assessed have had their entitlement to award degrees called into question. The evaluations have demonstrated the importance of recurring quality appraisals. They have not only identified the poor programmes but also contributed significantly to the development of quality through the measures adopted by the higher education institutions, the Government and the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education as a result of their findings. The conclusion is that on the whole higher education in Sweden maintains high standards of quality from an international perspective as well.
Calling the entitlement to award degrees into question has been a powerful measure for stimulating the development of quality. The higher education institutions have, in every case but one, implemented measures to avoid loss of this entitlement. In one case the entitlement to award a degree was withdrawn. Sometimes the higher education institutions have opted to discontinue the programmes concerned.
Threatened withdrawal of the entitlement to award a degree has been one way of stimulating quality development. Other important contributions to quality development can be found in the national survey of a subject provided by the evaluations, the examples of good programmes that the assessors have often pointed out, the self-evaluation process and, not least, the fact that there is now a great deal more knowledge about and experience of evaluation in the sector. This last could be compared with a comprehensive educational process to raise general awareness.

The follow-up of evaluations that has been arranged regularly has also contributed to the development of quality. Both the feed-back conferences held a few months after the conclusion of each evaluation and the written follow-up undertaken after three years demonstrate that the evaluations have had genuine effect.

As a result of the evaluations the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education has initiated its own studies and has also reported to the Government, for instance, on measures that may be required in certain fields. However, there are still areas where measures should be taken. This report concludes with a number of issues on which both the Government and the higher education institutions are urged to face up to their responsibilities.
The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education´s quality assurance of its own operation is undertaken on the principle of “practising what one preaches". During the last six years, in addition to its continuous quality assurance procedures, a number of external reviews and studies have been conducted. Twice during the period external evaluation of the National Agency evaluation procedures has taken place and as a result Sweden is one of the first countries to be approved by ENQA (European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education). The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education has been involved internationally at both European and Nordic level in, for instance, various cooperative projects. The National Agency´s Advisory Board, an international group, has continuously monitored the quality evaluations. The international perspective is also obvious in the composition of the panels of assessors. During the six years just over 850 assessors have been involved and this only in the evaluations of subjects and programmes. About half of the expert assessors (excluding undergraduate and graduate students and labour market representatives) have come from countries other than Sweden.

The experience acquired during the last six years has provided the basis for the new quality assurance system for higher education that has now been adopted.

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