Opt for Quality

06-TILE-KiesKwaliteit.jpgHow Ghent University Guarantees Premium-Quality Study Programmes

Ghent University aims for a permanent quality culture based on the following principles:

  • trust in the expertise held by study programmes and faculties;
  • shared ownership that facilitates and stimulates the faculties’ and study programmes’ self-management;
  • continued improvement of education;
  • efficient tools that support an evidence-based education policy;
  • lean administrative processes according to the principles of “Enlightened University” (Dutch: UGent Verlicht).

More information on how Ghent University continuously monitors the quality culture and quality assurance of its study programmes can be found in the documents on Ghent University’s Quality Conduct 2.0., the quality assurance system, and education support services for lecturers and study programmes.  

Contributors to Premium-Quality Education

Ghent University has a long-standing tradition of student involvement. In 2016, this involvement was highly and explicitly commended by the institutional review committee.

At Ghent University, student contribution to premium-quality education can take different forms:

  • individual students make themselves heard in annual surveys;
  • student representatives contribute to and participate in the decision-making process with regard to education at different levels (at university level, at faculty level and at the level of the study programme);
  • student reflection sessions (i.e. focus group discussions) help to shape Ghent University’s quality culture on a three-yearly basis.

Ghent University lecturers are inspired and enthusiastic teachers with a self-reflective attitude to their teaching and assessment practice. An incentive for this self-reflection is provided by the annual course feedback by students.

Ghent University offers its lecturers a wide range of professional development initiatives, including basic and in-depth professional development modules and online education tips.

That way, Ghent University creates an inspiring working and learning environment for its (newly-appointed) lecturers.

A Ghent University lecturer’s teaching assignment is versatile and dynamic:

  • teaching practice: Ghent University lecturers consider their teaching assignment as important as their research assignment;
  • education development: Ghent University lecturers contribute to shaping their study programme in a constructive manner, either as part of the teaching team, or as member of the Study Programme Committee;
  • education policy: Ghent University lecturers are actively involved in policy-making and quality assurance within their study programme, their faculty, or the institutional governing bodies.

Every Ghent University study programme has a Study Programme Committee (PC): the PC is a consultation body consisting of lecturers and students. The Programme Committee is responsible for drawing up the study programme’s education policy. It guarantees an efficient organisation of the teaching practice. As such, the PC is a crucial element of quality assurance.

The PC has at its disposal a variety of instruments to monitor the study programme’s quality:

  • the Education Monitor takes the form of online dashboard for education policy. The tool contains a programme-specific set of operational objectives and is used for monitoring programme content, quality assurance processes and university-wide policy lines. The Education Monitor enables study programmes to perform an annual self-evaluation, which in turn, results into a quality improvement plan;
  • in order to substantiate the self-evaluation, the PC analyses data provided directly into the Education Monitor by Ghent University’s Business Intelligence System (UGI);
  • the PC regularly and systematically collects and interprets feedback from both its internal (students, lecturers) as well as its external (alumni, occupational field, international peers) stakeholders. This feedback is crucial in guaranteeing our study programmes’ evidence-based nature, their alignment with international standards, and our alumni’s excellent professional qualifications, employability and exit level.

 

Quality assurance at Ghent University is a joint project, in which the faculty plays an essential part as partner of the institutional university services. The different existing consultation structures (Education Council, Annual Quality Meetings, EQCU Meetings, …) confirm and strengthen the partnership between Ghent University’s eleven faculties and the Department of Educational Policy (Dutch: Directie Onderwijsaangelegenheden – DOWA).

The faculty provides its study programmes with education support services, and monitors their quality assurance processes.

The faculty

  • translates institutional policy lines into faculty-specific measures and guidelines;
  • actively promotes the professional development of its lecturers and study programmes;
  • facilitates the exchange of good practices.

Our faculties use their Education Monitor to carry out an annual critical self-reflection on their education policy, internal quality culture, and the implementation of university-wide policy lines.

 

The Department of Educational Policy (Dutch: DOWA) develops university-wide education policy lines and education support services and tools, and follows up their implementation in close collaboration with all stakeholder parties. DOWA plays a mediating role by disseminating good practices and experiences across study programme and faculty boundaries.

DOWA consists of a policy unit and four offices, each with their own expertise and concomitant specific tasks:

  • the Policy Unit develops university-wide policy lines and education (support) services and tools. Data management, among other things, falls under the responsibility of the Policy Unit;
  • the Quality Assurance Office provides the support services for lecturers and study programmes, translates government quality assurance frameworks into specific policy lines, stimulates education innovation, and houses the general complaints officer for all education-related complaints;
  • the Counselling Office
  • the Registrar’s Office
  • the International Relations Office

Using the Central Education Monitor, DOWA carries out a critical reflection annually, scrutinizing the general quality culture and its own operational objectives.

 

Since 2015, the Education Quality Board (EQB) has been Ghent University’s specialist executive body responsible for monitoring the efficiency of quality assurance processes and guaranteeing the quality of our study programmes.

Specifically, the EQB:

  • collects and analyses quality assurance data and translates that information into specific actions for study programmes;
  • takes on the task of the external review commissions of old, and uses its helicopter view to monitor all of Ghent University’s study programmes;
  • will carry out a once-only screening of all the Education Monitors in the years 2021-2023 in order to gain clear insight into the study programmes’ quality culture and improvement capacity;
  • will pass a Quality Assurance Resolution (positive, positive with crucial points of improvement, negative) on every study programme’s quality and quality culture, based on the screening mentioned above;
  • systematically publishes public information on our study programmes’ quality of education to comply with the public accountability laid down by decree.

In other words, the EQB is the governing body responsible for closing the quality cycle at top level. Its composition combines complementary expertise from within our own ranks (professorial staff, assistant academic staff, administrative and technical staff) and from without (external experts).

 

External stakeholder input is a crucial element in our study programmes’ quality assurance. Several external stakeholder parties are surveyed systematically for feedback:

  • by means of an occupational field committee or other advisory bodies, study programmes survey companies and other organisations about the exit level and professional qualifications that are expected of our alumni. These external parties also give information about new tendencies in their respective disciplines;
  • by means of focus group discussions or online surveys, study programmes gauge their alumni’s opinion on the (quality of the) programme they completed;
  • Ghent University study programmes have a strong international focus: at least every four years and/or in case of a major curricular revision, our study programmes perform an international check by comparing their programme content to high-profile international study programmes.

 

Monitoring Education

Systematic data-driven critical reflection and decision-making are essential ingredients of a fully-fledged university-wide quality culture. These elements provide an objective angle to engage in any discussion on the quality and the appreciation of education.

The following quality performance tools (both qualitative and quantitative) are used to carry out data collection:

Education Monitors

The Education Monitors for study programmes, faculties and the central administration are built according to the PDCA principle. They contain the operational objectives for each of the policy levels mentioned above. These objectives are checked on an annual basis and result in a quality improvement plan.

Ghent University’s Integrated Business Intelligence System

Ghent University’s Integrated Business Intelligence System (UGI) processes into reports the results of all the different types of surveys as well as any other education-related data (student data, teaching staff data, study programme data and study progress data, …). These reports are automatically integrated into the Education Monitors and are used as evidence to monitor and perform checks on each policy level’s operational objectives.  

Surveys

Different types of surveys are used to gather feedback from internal and external stakeholders:

Where to Find Information on Study Programme Quality?

Public information on the quality of a specific study programme can be found in the Study Guide, by clicking on the tab “Quality Assurance”.

Support Services for Lecturers and Study Programmes  

Ghent University’s Education Support Services provide professional development initiatives for teaching staff and study programmes. The course offer focuses on strengthening didactic competencies and mutual learning. 

The professional development initiatives are based on the following principles:

  • ownership for teaching staff, study programmes and faculties;
  • academic, practice- and data-oriented initiatives;
  • a course offer with basic and an in-depth initiatives;
  • a course offer with supply- and demand-driven initiatives;
  • a mix of once-only initiatives and learning track initiatives;
  • a mix of online and face-to-face contacts;
  • a mix of expert learning and peer learning