Quality assurance system for the educational activities at the University of Oslo
The quality assurance system for UiO’s educational activities was first adopted in 2004. The current version was adopted by the university board 8 December 2020.
This English translation is for information purposes only. For all legal purposes, the original document in Norwegian is the authoritative version. This document relates to the Norwegian grading system and structure of education.
1. Objectives and structure
The UiO quality system shall help to ensure high quality education, a good learning and working environment for students, PhD candidates and employees, and society’s confidence in the competence of candidates. The quality system shall support the UiO's unique opportunities to connect education and research, utilise its academic strengths and apply knowledge.
The quality system shall support academic activities and research-based knowledge about learning and education. The quality system shall contribute towards developing the quality of education and the learning environment by:
- establishing a broad knowledge base for quality work
- ensuring input from students, PhD candidates and other stakeholders
- identifying and collecting data to support quality assessment
- facilitating collegiate involvement and interaction
The quality system covers all education offered by the university. It shall ensure regular assessments of quality and development measures in respect of both individual education and educational activities as a whole. It shall allow for local adaptation of quality work based on academic requirements, unit organisation and different educational levels. It shall also promote the sharing of experience and the spread of good practice.
The quality system shall help the UiO to regularly and systematically assess whether or not the objectives and ambitions of its educational activities and learning environment are being realised. These objectives are enshrined in the UiO’s and the faculties' strategic and annual plans, as well as in their programme and course descriptions.
The quality system has three main components:
Common system description
Framework provisions that allocate responsibilities and set minimum requirements for quality work and the evaluation of educational quality (this document).
Routine descriptions and mandates/function descriptions
Faculties, departments and LOS (Management and Support Units) establish routine descriptions for the UiO’s activities in the quality system in line with the division of labour between levels. The routine descriptions shall specify:
- how activities are carried out
- who will be responsible for how they are carried out
- how the results are processed (formal forums)
- who (which roles) are responsible for follow-up
The routine descriptions shall be available on the UiO's website.
In addition, there shall be mandates/functional descriptions for the roles of heads of education and formal educational quality bodies that show responsibilities for the implementation and follow-up of the activities in the quality system.
Sharing of experience
All levels shall contribute towards joint and local initiatives that facilitate experience-sharing and learning at individual and organisational level.
2. Responsibilities and involvement
Quality work is part of the UiO’s ordinary governance and management structure and shall normally be based on existing procedures, arrangements and bodies.
The faculties can adapt the division of responsibilities or add duties in accordance with their own priority areas and organisational structures. There are therefore local variations in the organisation of quality work.
The University Board has overall responsibility for the quality of UiO education and adopts the University's strategic plan. The Board of Directors exercises responsibility by adopting annual plans and budgets and following up the UiO's activities and results in business reports and an annual report. The Board discusses and adopts decisions on issues related to the UiO’s academic programme and Education Portfolio and also deals with matters relating to other relevant topics in the field of education.
University Management Team
The University Management Team is responsible for the overall coordination of quality work and for following up the results. In particular the Team is responsible for facilitating the quality development of educational activities and serving as a driving force behind internal quality work and the exchange of experience.
Joint collegiate bodies
The UiO has three joint collegiate bodies that are essential in respect of the quality of education:
- The Education Committee deals with first and second cycle education.
- The Forum for Research Deans deals with third cycle education.
- The Learning Environment Committee deals with the physical and psychosocial learning environment.
All three are advisory bodies and contribute towards the development of quality in UiO education and realisation of the objectives of the UiO’s educational activities. They serve respectively as meeting places and venues for strategic discussions between the University Management Team, the faculties and students and PhD candidates.
The Education Committee has a particular responsibility for the integrity of quality work, e.g. when reviewing system descriptions. The Education Committee also serves as an important link between academic and administrative line management by engaging in cooperation with the head of studies network.
Faculty and departmental levels
Deans and departmental heads are responsible for quality work at their levels and are responsible for following up the results. They are particularly responsible for facilitating the quality development of educational activities and for ensuring the existence of faculty and departmental roles such as head of education.
Deans and departmental heads shall provide up-to-date details about heads of education at faculty and departmental level, programme council members, programme managers and course managers, and shall ensure that such details are available on the UiO's website.
The faculties and departments have different ways of organising and naming collegiate bodies, but they shall all have meeting places and venues for conducting strategic discussions about the educational quality of those involved in quality work. Students and PhD candidates shall be represented.
The administration sections of the faculties and departments provide support for academic managers and academic development work. They have an important role in the practical implementation of quality work and the facilitation of cooperation.
The following roles shall exist:
Heads of education at faculty level
Heads of education at faculty level (study deans, vice-deans for tuition/research education) are responsible for the management, development and coordination of the unity of faculty programme portfolios and are drivers of faculty quality work.
Typical duties in respect of education and research education are:
- managing and coordinating work on following up faculty strategy and annual plans
- initiating faculty quality development processes
- serving as a link between faculty management and education and research heads of education at departmental level
- serving as faculty representatives on the UiO's joint collegiate bodies
Heads of education at departmental level
Head of education at the departmental level (heads of education, heads of studies, heads of research education or the equivalent) have overall and coordinating responsibility for all departmental programmes and courses and are drivers of quality work.
Typical duties in respect of education and research education are:
- managing the work involved in following up departmental strategy and annual plans
- facilitating the development of the collegiate community in education
- managing academic development projects
- providing a good exchange of information between faculties and departments and serving as a link between departmental administrative and the scientific employees
Programme councils and programme heads
Units that are responsible for programmes are regarded as being the owner of the programme concerned and are responsible for appointing a programme council and head of programme in line with the UiO’s normal rules. Programme councils and programme heads are responsible for ensuring:
- the unity and cohesion of a programme and ensuring good connections between learning objectives, teaching methods, evaluation and assessment methods and learning outcomes
- that programmes are quality assured and developed in line with requirements
- that improvement needs are assessed and that measures are initiated and followed up
- that students/PhD candidates receive information about evaluation results
Programme councils should consist of persons who are active in the implementation and development of programmes. Programme heads should normally chair programme councils.
Units which are responsible for a course are regarded as being the owner of the course in question and for appointing a course manager. Course managers are responsible for ensuring:
- that courses are quality assured and developed in line with requirements
- that improvement needs are assessed and that measures are initiated and followed up
- that students/PhD candidates receive information about evaluation results
Students and PhD candidates
Students and PhD candidates participate in quality work by participating in evaluations and by being represented on the UiO's collegiate bodies and various ad hoc committees. Students also participate through student democracy and through student bodies at all levels.
Joint coordination of quality work
The Department of Study Administration is the system owner of the quality system and supports the educational quality work of the faculties and the University Management Team. This department has overall responsibility for managing administrative support functions relating to education.
LINK – The Centre for Learning and Education shall support and encourage the development of teaching and learning processes at the UiO. LINK is a meeting place for discussions about educational quality, helps to spread good practices and creates networks for learning across academic and organisational borders at the UiO.
Administrative networks in which both the faculties and LOS participate are arenas for consultations throughout the University of Oslo and they contribute to the exchange of experiences. As regards quality work this applies in particular to the network for administrative heads of study and the forum for research education.
The Section for Business and Financial Management assists and advises the University Management Team on corporate governance, financial management and analysis. This section coordinates the UiO's work on corporate governance and reporting.
3. Knowledge base for quality work
It is a fundamental objective that the UiO’s quality work shall be based on up-to-date academic and educational knowledge. The quality system shall contribute to a broad knowledge base which includes both qualitative and quantitative information and research and development activities. The system is designed to enable students, PhD candidates, tutors and others to provide input.
The knowledge base shall provide tutors, students and PhD candidates with information, analyses and data for development and learning and also provide leaders at all levels with a basis for decision-making. Follow-up takes place as part of management’s responsibilities, through collegiate involvement and through corporate governance and the work carried out on the Education Portfolio.
Courses shall be evaluated each time they are held. The purpose of evaluation is to provide course managers, students and PhD candidates with an opportunity to engage in dialogue and receive feedback as they progress, as well as to ensure ongoing course development. The timing of evaluation must be adapted in order to allow for ongoing dialogue and feedback.
Evaluation shall include an assessment of the relationship between the course's learning outcomes and teaching methods and organisation. Other key topics are the course's learning environment and the students'/PhD candidates' work and activation.
The course manager prepares a brief summary of the students’/PhD candidates’ most important feedback, any adjustments made and opportunities for course development. Such summaries shall be shared with the course owner and the students/PhD candidates who have participated.
As regards the tuition aspect of PhD programmes, the faculty concerned may find other appropriate quality assurance procedures in line with the intentions which relate to course evaluation.
The results of evaluation are primarily followed up by the course manager with the support of the academic community and the course owner, but they are also included in the regular development of the education portfolio, cf. chapter 4.
Periodic programme evaluation
Within a six-year period, an evaluation of the integrity of each programme shall be carried out. The purpose of such evaluation is to assess the quality of the programme and any opportunities for programme development. At PhD level, evaluation can be carried out for programme options.
Evaluation shall include an assessment of the relationship between the programme's learning outcomes, academic content, teaching methods and assessment arrangements. Other key topics are the programme's learning environment, work relevance, internationalisation and infrastructure, as well as the performance of students/PhD candidates. The programme owner determines the mandate for the evaluation and can add other focus areas.
Periodic programme evaluation consists of self-evaluation and external evaluation:
- Self-evaluation is coordinated by the programme management and is based on the evaluation material collected during the period. Self-evaluation shall also include a brief review of the requirements of NOKUT's Academic Supervision Regulations.
- External evaluation is carried out by an evaluation panel and is based on the programme management's self-evaluation and other relevant material. The programme owner ensures that the panel receives access to the necessary information.
The evaluation panel is appointed by the programme owner and shall have the following competence:
- The panel shall have specialist expertise relating to the programme's academic core area(s).
- The panel shall have expertise relating to teaching and/or research supervision.
- The panel shall have at least one participant who is a student/PhD candidate.
- The panel shall have at least one participant from the world of work or society.
The evaluation panel draws up a report containing an assessment of the quality of the programme and outlining any opportunities for programme development. This report is sent to the programme owner and will be made available on the UiO's website.
The results of evaluation are primarily followed up by the programme manager with the support of the academic community and the programme owner, but they are also included in the regular development of the Education Portfolio, cf. Chapter 4.
Surveys and analyses
Surveys of educational quality and learning environments provide an important basis for the regular follow-up of educational activities. These surveys supplement the knowledge base for programme and course evaluations and other available material.
Surveys and analyses can be conducted by the management of the university, the faculties, the departments and programme managers. These could include:
- Summaries and analyses of data about education, learning and assessment.
- Surveys about students’/PhD candidates' learning/working environments.
- Surveys about the quality of education aimed at employees.
- Progress reporting for PhD candidates and supervisors.
- Candidate and employer surveys.
- The Student Barometer, the national student satisfaction survey.
The coordinating unit determines the implementation procedures. Other units are consulted as required.
The UiO uses the Tableau statistics and reporting tool, which has its own reports for heads of education, programme managers and course managers.
Analyses of educational data are conducted by the Department of Study Administration, LINK and the Section for Business and Financial Management, as well as at faculty and departmental level. Such cooperation is organised through the system ownership of Tableau, other support systems and as specific joint venture projects.
The results of surveys and analyses are primarily followed up by the coordinating unit, but are shared with other units and academic communities and are included in the regular development of the education portfolio, cf. chapter 4.
Speak Up (Si fra) for students and PhD candidates
Students and PhD candidates shall always have somewhere where they can report physical and social circumstances, regardless of other evaluations:
- Students can use the Speak Up system.
- PhD candidates who are not employed by the UiO can use the Speak Up system.
- Supervisors and PhD candidates who are employed by the UiO can use the notification channel for employees.
The Speak Up system for students and the notification channel for employees have common procedures for processing any cases reported. Cases may also form the basis for further follow-up and evaluation.
The Learning Environment Committee shall be kept informed about the scope and type of any reports relating to the physical and social learning environment. The results of the Speak Up system are included in the faculties' business reports and are summarised annually for the university board.
Research and development activities
Research and development activities form a key aspect of the UiO's systematic work on quality. There are three main types activities which are relevant in this respect:
- Development projects that bridge the gap between the university’s educational competence that scientific employees must acquire when employed, promotion and merits, and local quality work.
- Analysis projects that connect and utilise various quantitative and qualitative data related to the UiO’s educational activities and that have implications for the students' and PhD candidates' learning and results.
- Research and innovation projects aimed at developing new knowledge about the conditions and frameworks which apply to students’ and PhD candidates' learning and good educational organisation. The activities of centres for outstanding education and other externally funded initiatives will also be included and utilised.
LINK has a particular responsibility for creating arenas that encourage research and development activities, and for identifying and systematising research on education, teaching and learning that is relevant for the development of a broad knowledge base for the quality system.
4. Educational developments
The management of the university, faculties and departments shall systematically follow up and facilitate the future development of their education activities at Bachelor's, Master's and PhD levels. This shall include both individual educational programmes and educational activities as a whole.
Such follow-up shall facilitate follow-up and assessment of the results of programme and course evaluations. Follow-up shall in particular address programmes during the period which elapses between each periodic programme evaluation.
Annual bilateral meetings shall be held between the University Management Team and the faculties’ heads of education. Similar fixed meetings shall take place between the faculties’ heads of education and heads of education at departmental and/or programme level. Their talks shall address priority activities and results, as well as systematic quality work.
The results of follow-up shall be documented in minutes or reports, or by other means. It is particularly important to document agreements about development initiatives.
Collegiate involvement, learning environment development and collaboration across the board
Follow-up work in the quality system shall pave the way for broad involvement in discussions about achieved results, in choices of direction and in future priorities.
The characteristics of follow-up work are that responsible heads of education shall facilitate collegiate involvement and that students and PhD candidates shall be systematically included in such work through their own learning environments.
There shall be meeting places and arenas where representatives of scientific staff, students/PhD candidates, administration and management can jointly identify any challenges and opportunities contained in follow-up work and share their knowledge and experiences.
Corporate governance is carried out in an annual cycle, and the main aspects of such cycles are preparation of the UiO's annual plan, preparation of the units' annual plans, distribution and business reporting.
Corporate governance shall provide the board and management with the status of follow-up of the UiO's annual plan, implementation of the current year's activities and the financial situation. These reports shall help to provide an insight into how resources are managed and to provide a decision-making basis for future priorities both centrally and locally.
Business reporting is based on the faculties' management assessments, updated forecasts and current analyses and surveys. The results of evaluations in the quality system are not directly included in business reporting, but form an important part of the knowledge base for reporting.
Work on the education portfolio
The faculties' assessments and priorities are the main basis for managing and developing the UiO’s education portfolio. The faculties have considerable leeway in respect of managing their own portfolios. Educational developments take place both by making regular changes to and in establishing and discontinuing educational programmes.
Work on the UiO’s education portfolio shall facilitate board participation in overall, strategic assessments og development of the portfolio, such as the establishment and discontinuation of subjects and programmes, while follow-up is left to the faculties themselves.
Each year the university board considers a collective case concerning the establishment and discontinuation of programmes and the scale of the education portfolio. Such consideration is based on specific proposals made by the faculties relating to the establishment and discontinuation of educational programmes. The case is considered by making close reference to the budgetary process.
The faculties shall regularly review the programme and course descriptions, including the learning outcome descriptions, in line with the annual cycle relating to written study information. The purpose of such reviews is to quality assure information about the programmes and courses based on evaluation results and other feedback.