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 10 March 2015.
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.
Chapter 1 – Purpose and structure
The goals of the educational activities and the learning environment at the University of Oslo are set out in the "Strategy 2020" document, in the university's and the faculties' annual plans, and in the programme and course descriptions. The quality assurance system will contribute to the realization of the goals of the educational activities and the learning environment.
The quality assurance system covers all education offered at the university. The purpose of the system is to ensure that there are regular reviews of the quality and of measures for improvement in educational programmes and in the educational activities as a whole. The purpose of the system is to promote the sharing of experiences and best practices. Each evaluation can be tailored to local needs.
There are three main components to the quality assurance system:
Shared system description
A framework that places responsibilities and stipulates the minimum requirements for evaluation of quality of education (this document).
Description of faculty procedures
The faculties and the departments will draw up procedures for each evaluation in accordance with the system description. The procedures must state:
The procedures must indicate when it is the faculty that determines the frequency of evaluations. The procedures must be available on the UiO website.
Sharing experiencesEvery level must provide input to joint, local measures that facilitate the sharing of experiences and learning on the individual and organizational level.
Chapter 2 – Responsibilities and participation
The University Board has final responsibility for the quality of the educational programmes offered at UiO. The work to assure the quality of education is part of the ordinary leadership and management structure, and will normally be based on existing procedures, arrangements and bodies.
The faculties can adapt the distribution of responsibilities or assign more tasks in accordance with own priority areas, measures and the organizational structure. This is why there are local variations in how the work to assure the quality of education is organized.
The descriptions of the faculties' procedures provide more information about the distribution of tasks and responsibility for carrying out and following up the evaluations in the quality assurance system.
The management at all levels is responsible for coordinating the work with quality and for following up the results. Deans, heads of department and programme directors lead the quality assurance work at their level. The management is responsible for facilitation and quality assurance of the support functions of the educational programmes in conjunction with the administration.
Programme councils and programme directors
The faculty or the department responsible for a programme (programme owner) will appoint a programme council and programme director in accordance with UiO's ordinary rules for faculties. The programme owner, the programme council and the programme director are responsible for:
- quality assurance and continued development of each programme in accordance with the requirements in the quality assurance system.
- assessment of the need for improvements, and implementation and follow-up of relevant measures.
- the students / PhD candidates receiving access to the evaluation results.
Persons with course responsibility
The faculty, the department or the centre responsible for a course (the course owner) will appoint a person with responsibility for each course. The course owner and the person with course responsibility must ensure:
- quality assurance and continued development of each course in accordance with the requirements in the quality assurance system.
- assessment of the need for improvements, and implementation and follow-up of relevant measures.
- the students / PhD candidates receiving access to the evaluation results.
At UiO, external experts participate in periodic evaluations of each programme. An external view of UiO's educational programmes is also secured through supplementary investigations.
Students and PhD candidates
Students and PhD candidates participate in the quality assurance work by evaluating programmes and courses or by conducting supplementary investigations. Students and PhD candidates are represented on UiO's collegiate bodies that have decision-making powers. Students also have influence through student bodies at every level.
Chapter 3 – Regular monitoring of the educational activities
The faculties must have a procedure for regular, systematic monitoring of their educational activities. The procedure must particularly ensure that the programmes are monitored during the periods between periodic programme evaluations.
The purpose of the monitoring is to assess the need for adjustments to the programmes or other changes to the educational activities. Key topics are relevant evaluation material collected during the period, facts about the execution of the programmes and ongoing improvement measures.
The monitoring can take the form of regular dialogue meetings with the departments or programmes, departmental or programme reports, or it can be organized as convenient for the faculty. The results must be documented. The monitoring must be organized in such a way that it can become part of the foundation for the units' reporting.
The units' reporting takes place once a year, and must examine goal achievement and the allocation of resources, in order to provide the management with a better foundation on which to make decisions regarding priorities. The reporting has its own year-wheel. Unit reports and other relevant reports to the University Board are prepared, drawing on the remarks by the faculty's management and relevant analyses and surveys.
The results of the course and programme evaluations are not directly part of the units' reporting, but are part of the knowledge base that the faculties and underlying units use in their reporting.
Chapter 4 – Review of programme and course descriptions
Each programme has a programme description in line with the Regulations governing Studies and Examinations or the Regulations for the Degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD). Each course has a course description pursuant to the Regulations governing Studies and Examinations.
The programme and course descriptions are reviewed regularly in accordance with the year-wheel for work with written information on the course of study in order to assure the quality of the information about the programmes and courses. This results in regular assessments of the quality of the programme and course descriptions, and ensures that the content of the programme and course descriptions is updated, based on evaluation results and other input.
Chapter 5 – Periodic programme evaluation
The coherence of each programme must be evaluated within a six-year period. New programmes should be evaluated more frequently. The purpose of the evaluation is to assess the quality of the programme and the need to make changes to the programme or discontinue it. At the PhD level, the evaluation can also be carried out for specializations within a programme.
The evaluation must include an assessment of the relationship between the programme's planned learning outcomes, academic content, forms of work and teaching, and assessment arrangements. Other key topics are the programme's relevance to working life, internationalization, the learning environment and infrastructure, and the students' / PhD candidates' progression.
Periodic programme evaluations consist of self-evaluations and external evaluations:
1) Self-evaluations are carried out by the programme management, and must include input from students / PhD candidates and other employees, if applicable. Self-evaluations should contain a review of the academic environment in light of the quantitative requirements in the Academic Supervision Regulations.
2) The external evaluation will be performed by an evaluation panel, and will be based on the programme management's self-evaluation and other relevant material. The programme owner will appoint an evaluation panel to review the external evaluation:
- The panel must consist of national and/or international experts.
- The panel's members must have competence in teaching and/or supervision of research.
- At least one member of the panel must be a student / PhD candidate.
- It is optional for the panel to have members who are employees of UiO.
- It is optional for the panel to have members from working life or from organizations. (*)
- The programme management normally is not represented on the evaluation panel.
[(*) Due to changes in the national regulations, contributions from students, representatives from work or social life and external experts in the program evaluations are now mandatory. UiO's quality assurance system will be updated in the spring of 2019.]
The programme owner is responsible for facilitating access to the information required by the panel. The evaluation panel will write a report containing assessments of the quality of the programme and the need for changes to the programme. The evaluation panel will send the report to the programme owner.
The reports from the self-evaluation and the external evaluation must be available to the persons who participated in the evaluation.
Chapter 6 – Periodic evaluation of courses (Bachelor and Master)
An evaluation will be performed of the coherence of each course the first and second time the course is offered, then at regular intervals with the frequency determined by the faculty. The purpose of the evaluation is to assess the quality of the course and the need to change the course or discontinue it.
The evaluation must include an assessment of the relationship between the course's planned learning outcomes, forms of work, teaching and assessment arrangements. Other key topics are the learning environment of the course and its infrastructure, and the students' completion of the course.
The scope and method of the evaluation must be adapted to the course and the student group. The evaluation must include input from students and, if applicable, from employees.
The person with course responsibility will write a report containing assessments related to the need to make changes to the course or discontinue it. The report must be available to programmes of study that include the course, and to the students who have participated.
Chapter 7 – Interim evaluation of courses (Bachelor and Master)
Every time a course is held, there must be an interim evaluation. The purpose of the evaluation is to receive input on course information, teaching activities and learning processes, and to assess the need for adjustments during the course.
The scope and method of the evaluation must be adapted to the course and the student group.
No report is required from interim evaluations of courses. If identified needs for improvements cannot be remedied during the course, this information must be reported to the course owner.
Chapter 8 – Evaluation of the educational component (PhD)
The educational component of each programme must be evaluated within a three-year period. The purpose of the evaluation is to assess the quality of the educational component and the need for changes. Courses that are part of the educational component can also be evaluated in line with chapter 6 regarding periodic evaluation of courses.
Key topics of the evaluation are the academic content and organization of the training component, the PhD candidates' completion of the educational component, and the learning environment and the infrastructure linked to the educational component.
The scope and method of the evaluation must be adapted to the programme and the number of PhD candidates. The evaluation must include input from PhD candidates and, if applicable, from employees.
The results of the evaluation and the assessments linked to the need for changes to the educational component must be documented. The results and the assessments must be available to the programme management and to the PhD candidates that have participated.
Chapter 9 – Evaluation of the thesis procedure (PhD)
There must be an internal evaluation of the procedure for PhD candidates' work with the thesis within a three-year period. The purpose of the evaluation is to assess the quality of the procedure and the need for changes to the procedure. The evaluation can be coordinated with the evaluation of the educational component.
Key topics of the evaluation are the organization of the thesis procedure and the academic supervision, affiliation with research communities, and the PhD candidates' learning environments.
The scope and method of the evaluation must be adapted to the programme and the number of PhD candidates. The evaluation must include input from PhD candidates and employees, if applicable.
The results of the evaluation and the assessments linked to the need for changes to the thesis procedure must be documented. The results and the assessments must be available to the programme management and to the PhD candidates that have participated.
Chapter 10 – External evaluation of the assessment or assessment arrangements
Between the periodic programme evaluations, there must be an external evaluation of the assessment or the assessment arrangements, with the frequency determined by the faculty. The purpose of the evaluation is to test and assess the students' knowledge and skills in a manner that is academically sound.
Key topics of the evaluation are forms of assessment, assessment processes, and the standard of the evaluation results in relation to the academic content, the teaching arrangements and the expected learning outcomes.
The evaluation can be organized using external assessment examiners, external programme supervisors, programme advisers or in any other way that is convenient for the faculty. The faculty will determine whether an evaluation is to be of a course, course group, subject area or programme of study.
The results of the evaluation must be documented, so that they can become part of the foundation for the periodic programme evaluation.
Chapter 11 – "Speak up about the learning environment"
"Speak up about the learning environment" is the UiO system for students' reporting of physical and social matters. It contains procedures for reception, processing and reporting of cases.
It must be easy to find the information about the Speak up system, symbolized by a traffic light, on the UiO website. Cases are reported electronically using an online form. The system's three main lines for reporting are indicated using the three traffic light signals.
Red line "Whistle blowing – report a serious problem" – to report censurable matters that the student has experienced or learned of, to the detriment of individuals or environments at UiO.
Yellow line "When something needs improvement" – to report physical or social matters that the student believes need to be remedied.Green line "When you are satisfied" – for positive feedback on the learning environment, nominations for the Learning Environment Prize or the prize for best lecturer.
Cases that are not handled by the Speak up system will be referred to the right place. This applies to e.g. evaluation of teaching, appeals against examination results and formal errors in the examination. Cases regarding operation and maintenance of buildings are sent directly to the Technical Department. The website contains information about the role of the Student Ombud and forms of assistance.
Cases reported using the different lines are channelled to the faculty or department. Students may be given the name of the person who received the case, and information about the further process. As the red line includes whistleblowing cases, they are transmitted in encrypted form in order to protect sensitive content. A line leader and learning environment contact person receive red line reports. In order to guarantee transparency in these serious cases, the Internal Auditing Unit receives a copy of the case upon receipt, and a final report when the case is closed.
The cases are followed up in the line, and at the lowest possible level of the organization. The student will be notified before a case reported is transferred to another unit or delegated. Joint procedures have been developed for following up cases reported in the system. There is a common procedure for handling red cases from students and whistleblowing cases from employees. Employees are offered training on the Speak up system every year.
The learning environment committee must be kept apprised of the number and type of reports sent regarding the physical and social learning environment. Information about the work with the learning environment, and the number of cases from the Speak up system and how they are handled is included in the faculty's unit reports, and the University Board receives an annual summary.
Chapter 12 – Supplementary investigations
Together with the administration, the university's management at every level must assess the need for and, if applicable, open investigations that can provide supplementary information to the assessments of the quality of studies.
There are regular institution-wide investigations of students' satisfaction with the quality of education and the learning environment. There are also surveys of candidates and employers that provide a foundation for assessing the relevance of the educational programmes to working life. Other quantitative or qualitative investigations are carried out as required.
Elements of the quality assurance system